Karl Spitzweg (1808-1885)

German painter Karl Spitzweg was known as Der Biedermeirmaler because of his trademark style of painting both the outward 19th-century German petit-bourgeois class, as well as the inner, lingering mythological tendencies as well. Spitzweg was also one of the first caricaturists, albeit a gentle and less cynical one than his successors.

The 19th-century German petit-bourgeois class desired to be eternal, and the Biedermeier style painted the simple pleasures of everyday life in Germany during a time of peace on prosperity. On canvas, they and their ideals could live forever.

Spitzweg set out initially to be a pharmacist, but left he profession after only one year to pursue painting. Spitzweg was a solitary man who held himself in high-esteem, seemingly aloof from his peers, typical of the dignified German fashion. Spitzweg s paintings, such as The Bookworm, were humorous paintings where he represented the German everyman with love humor and indulgence, in the Biedermeier good old days style.

Late in life, Spitzweg changed his style to emulate the Impressionists, who influenced him greatly. Instead of resorting to his drafting roots, Spitzweg s paintings became free and bold, reflecting the freedom and cosmopolitanism enjoyed by Germany in the late 19th century.


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