Carl Spitzweg

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Carl Spitzweg
Carl Spitzweg.jpg
Born (1808-02-05)February 5, 1808
Unterpfaffenhofen, Kingdom of Bavaria
Died September 23, 1885(1885-09-23) (aged 77)
Munich, German Empire
Nationality German
Known for Painter, poet, artist
Movement German Romanticism, Biedermeier

Carl Spitzweg (February 5, 1808 – September 23, 1885) was a German romanticist painter, especially of genre subjects. He is considered to be one of the most important artists of the Biedermeier era.

Life and career

Dirndln auf der Alm, c. 1870s
In the Alpine High Valley in Mt. Wendelstein, c. 1871
Jugendfreunde, c.1855
Begegnung im Walde, A Woodland Meeting, c. 1860

He was born in Unterpfaffenhofen, near Munich, Bavaria, the second of three sons of Franziska (née Schmutzer) and Simon Spitzweg.[1] His father, a wealthy merchant, had Carl trained as a pharmacist. He attained his qualification from the University of Munich but, while recovering from an illness, he also took up painting. Spitzweg was self-taught as an artist, starting out by copying the works of Flemish masters. He contributed his first work to satiric magazines. Upon receiving an inheritance in 1833, he was able to dedicate himself to painting.

Later, Spitzweg visited European art centers in Prague, Venice, Paris, London, and Belgium studying the works of various artists and refining his technique and style. His later paintings and drawings are often humorous genre works. Many of his paintings depict sharply characterized eccentrics, for example The Bookworm (1850) and The Hypochondriac (c. 1865, in the Neue Pinakothek, Munich).

His paintings inspired the musical comedy Das kleine Hofkonzert by Edmund Nick.

Playing Piano, an etching by Spitzweg, was found as part of the 2012 Nazi loot discovery.[2]

Spitzweg is buried in the Alter Südfriedhof in Munich.


In the late 1930s an art forgery case in Germany involved 54 paintings which had been passed off as Spitzweg originals. They had been painted by a Traunstein copyist named Toni who worked from reproductions and picture postcards. Toni signed the works with his own name as "after Spitzweg", but fraudsters later removed his name and artificially aged the paintings in order to sell them as originals. At the Stuttgart Criminal Court Assizes the conspirators were jailed for up to ten years for the swindle.[3]


English Tourists in Campagna, 1845


  1. ^ Jensen, Jens Christian (2002). Karl Spitzweg, Museum Georg Schäfer. Prestel. p. 342.
  2. ^ "Photo Gallery: Munich Nazi Art Stash Revealed". Spiegel. November 17, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  3. ^ Schuller, Sepp. (1960) Forgers, Dealers, Experts: Adventures in the Twilight of Art Forgery. Translated from the German by James Cleugh. London: Arthur Barker, p. 93.


External links

  • Media related to Carl Spitzweg at Wikimedia Commons
  • Biography and selected paintings of Carl Spitzweg
  • The Spitzweg Game
  • Spitzweg Gallery at MuseumSyndicate
  • Milwaukee Art Museum has a large Spitzweg collection
  • German masters of the nineteenth century: paintings and drawings from the Federal Republic of Germany, a full text exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which contains material on Carl Spitzweg (no. 87–90)
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