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Joseph Karl Stieler

May - 9 - 2013
Joseph Karl Stieler

Josef K. Stieler, photographed by Franz Hanfstaengl, c. 1857

Joseph Karl Stieler was a German painter(1 November 1781 – 9 April 1858).Born in Mainz to a family of engravers and die-cutters, Stieler received some artistic training from his father, August Friedrich Stieler (1736-1789).From 1820 until 1855 he worked as royal court painter of the Bavarian kings. He is known for his Neoclassical portraits, especially for the Gallery of Beauties at Nymphenburg Palace in Munich.Stieler began his career as a painter of en:miniatures. His portrait style was most especially shaped during his work in the Parisian atelier of François Gérard, a student of Jacques-Louis David.

After Mainz had been occupied by French revolutionary troops in 1792, Stieler followed the expelled court of Prince-Archbishop Friedrich Karl Joseph von Erthal to Aschaffenburg. Here he met with the later Archbishop Karl Theodor Anton Maria von Dalberg, who became his most important patron and sponsor. From 1802 to 1805 he attended the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in the master class of Heinrich Füger.

In 1808, he established himself as an independent portraitist in the city of Frankfurt and in 1810 travelled through Italy. From 1812 he worked at the court of King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria.In 1816, he again travelled to Vienna to paint the portrait of Emperor Francis I of Austria.Between February and April 1820, he worked on his portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven, which is probably the most well-known representation of the composer today.


1820 portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven

The portrait of Beethoven painted by Joseph Carl Stieler in 1819-20, is one of the best known of the many portraits, which were painted of the composer. It was acquired by the brother of Louis Spohr at a raffle run by the Art Association of Brunswick. He valued the portrait highly because Stieler had assured him, when they had met at their friend Kaulbach’s house in Munich, that he was the only painter to whom Beethoven had allowed sittings – and that, only at the specific wish of the composer’s friends and patrons, the Brentanos. It is understood to be a very good likeness; only the hands had to be painted from memory, as Beethoven could not be persuaded to sit any longer.
Beethoven portrait of a long article
Stieler retired in 1855 to live at his country home in Tegernsee. He died of pneumonia in Munich three years later.

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