Famous Artists, Notes on German Culture

Carl Spitzweg was a German Pharmacist who became a famous artist

Carl Spitzweg, born in Unterpfaffenhofen in Bavaria, was a German Pharmacist who fell ill shortly after graduating from a Munich University. He used his prolonged period of illness to teach himself how to paint, at first by copying the works of Flemish masters. His professional career started when he sold his first work to a satiric magazine. Later, upon receiving an inheritance in 1833, he was able to dedicate himself fully to painting and study of art. Spitzweg visited European art centers, studying various artists and refined his technique and style… he visited Prague, Venice, Paris, London, and Belgium. Eventually he became one of the best known artists of the early 19th century Biedermeier period.

Many of his paintings depict sharply characterized eccentrics, for example this 1850 painting, The Bookworm…an image of an eccentric elderly man atop a tall ladder, searching for a book in this outrageously tall library, unable to decide which book to take, balancing one choice between his knees, another with his elbows and holding yet two more, one in each hand.

The Bookworm

Below is a pleasant scene to ponder at this time of year…an image of a nice warm and sunny summer day, perfect for a Sunday walk. Spitzweg named this image, ” Der Sonntagsspaziergang”…the Sunday Stroll… another great example of the Biedermeier period.

Der Sonntagsspaziergang

Spitzweg painted scenes like this “Sunday Stroll” that portrayed normal activities in a way that makes us stop and appreciate the beauty of nature and our everyday life. I’m particularly fond of this painting and of his painting “The Bookworm”. Even his portrait of a poor poet in his shambles of an apartment has a quaint charm.

Der Arme Poet

It is no surprise that Spitzweg is classified as a romanticist painter and one of the most important artists of the Biedermeier era.

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