Born in the family of a merchant. Initially, he was preparing for a pharmacist career: in 1825 he became a student, in 1828 he became an assistant pharmacist, and in 1828-1832 he studied at the University of Munich. As a painter was almost self-taught. He copied old Dutch masters, traveled extensively in Germany, visited Italy, France and several other European countries. He lived and worked mainly in Munich and Berlin.
He received a university pharmacist education, worked first as an assistant pharmacist, and then as a pharmacist. At the same time, studies painting, studies on canvases of Dutch masters of the seventeenth century, exhibited in the Munich Old Pinakothek. In the 1930s and 1940s, he worked as a draftsman and illustrator for satirical journals, for example, for “Flying Leaves” (“Fliegende Blätter”). The paintings he created during this period are ironic in depicting a city idyll, the life of a petty burgher. These works point to the great talent of the observer in the characteristics of human nature, have a clear composition and reflection of the play of light and shadow, as in the case of the Dutch genre artists of the 17th century.
In the late 40s, Spitzweg made a series of trips abroad, including to Prague, Paris and London, where he discovered the landscape painting of John Constable, as well as the work of Eugene Delacroix and the artists of the Barbizon school. From this point on landscape painting begins to play a large role in the artist's work
In 1850, he went again with his brother Edward and friend E. Schleich abroad - to Venice, Paris, London and Belgium. Upon returning from Paris, from 1851 he lives permanently in Munich, only occasionally leaving for Berlin (1856) and for the summer months in Pommersfelden (1853 and 1855).
He died at the age of 77, in his own bed from a stroke. Initially, the paintings of Charles Spitzweg did not enjoy public recognition, the turning point came after the Paris World Exhibition in 1867, after which the artist became very popular. The master's creative heritage is enormous: he left behind more than 1,500 paintings, watercolors and sketches.