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Biedermeier

500 artworks, 20 artists
Biedermeier (ger. biedermeier — simple-minded, philistine) is a direction in German and Austrian art, which was popular in the first half of the 19th century. The art style is a mixture of empire and romanticism, in which the aesthetic wealth of the empire is transformed into a picture of chamber home comfort. Biedermeier in painting absorbed many styles: the paintings show the influence of Rococo, realism, sentimentalism, romanticism. However, this artistic direction did not deserve the respect of art critics and received a characterization of the provincial, vulgar and philistine. On the other hand, in society, the simple-minded art has become popular. The Biedermeier artists did not respect neither academic traditions, nor the Old Masters. The painters demonstrated their mastery of the brush and unceremoniously simplified the subjects and philosophy of their works, making painting comfortable and understandable to the people outside the “high art”.

At the beginning of the 19th century, German society felt tired of political upheavals: the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, the redistribution of state borders in Europe. A middle class appeared in the country, whose representatives preferred to focus on everyday domestic problems and joys. People appreciated comfort and safety and did not hesitate to enjoy a quiet life. These moods were manifested in painting, interior, and decorative art. The name of the style was given by parody humorous poems, which were published in one of the Munich magazines. Their fictional author Gottlieb Biedermeier was a shy, complacent and sentimental layman, an unlucky lover of quiet life and comfort, who has become a symbol of philistinism.

Biedermeier paintings are easy to recognize even for a person not versed in art. The central theme of the canvases is the life of the “little man”, which the artists portrayed with humour and kindness. The painting became small-format, but the subjects and interior details loomed with amazing clarity and detail. Images were distinguished by static and an abundance of detail devoid of any symbolic or philosophical load. Representatives of the middle class became the subjects of the Biedermeier paintings: poets, scientists, musicians, farmers. Artists depicted them in the bedrooms among scattered things, in cosy gardens, on walks along the city streets. The atmosphere of Biedermeier painting warmed viewers with sentimentality and complacency. Subtle artistic approach to details gave the pleasure of a leisurely study of the work.

Biedermeier artists created landscapes, still lifes, portraits, but genre painting and everyday scenes became the most popular and vivid representation of the style. The artistic experience of romanticism was reflected in the techniques and subjects of the artworks with a poetic view of the world, which the “provincial style” brought down to land and embodied in everyday life. The artist, along with his subjects, admired the flowers, butterflies, nice interior items and cute trinkets. Either the artists or the audience did not demand mythological, battle, and historical painting. The exception was the world of fairy tales and German folklore: artists eagerly illustrated the Grimms’ Fairy Tales and German proverbs.

Biedermeier paintings:
The Poor Poet” 1839, “The Sunday Walk” 1841, “Cactus Lover” 1845, “Messenger in Rosenthal” 1858, “The Interrupted Contemplation” 1861 by Karl Spitzweg; “The Fresh Cavalier” 1846, “Picky Bride” 1847, “The Aristocrat’s Breakfast” 1850 by Pavel Fedotov; “The Return of Farmer” 1833 Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller; “Sunday reading in a rural school” 1845, “Disturbed Night's Sleep” 1851 by Johann Peter Hasenclever.

Biedermeier artists
Karl Spitzweg (1808—1885) was the brightest and most popular representative of the style. Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (1793—1865), Friedrich von Amerling (1803—1887), Friedrich Gauermann (1807—1862), Johann Baptist Reiter (1813—1890), Pavel Andreyevich Fedotov (1815—1852).
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