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Monday, November 27, 2017

Friedrich von Amerling

Portrait of Franz I, Emperor of Austria, Friedrich von Amerling

Although governments today may employ artists in any number of capacities, it's highly unlikely they would hire a single painter to do all the art work they might require. First of all, one artist probably couldn't stand the workload, and it's not likely a single artist today would be versatile enough to handle all the many-faceted needs of modern governments. Today virtually every major bureau or department at most levels would have it's own art department of two or more artists. Also, few such artists would be working full time as painters. Most governmental work involves graphic designers preparing material for publication.
A portrait, also by von Amerling,
of Franz Josef arrayed somewhat
more informally
That was not the case as recently as about two-hundred years ago. The Austrian artist, Friedrich von Amerling, was what was known at the time as a "court painter." Before you picture a sketch artist sitting in a courtroom trying to capture in charcoal or pastels the criminal proceedings of a trial, let me say that scenario is a modern-day conception in lieu of there not being allowed cameras in most courtrooms. No, von Amerling was almost exclusively a portrait artist, and as the court painter for the Austrian Emperor, Franz Josef I, pictured at the top in all his royal finery, all of which must have weighed heavily on him. (I'd guess fifty pounds or more.) Moreover von Amerling's job was first and foremost to paint highly flattering portraits of the emperor so as to impress his subject with his "kingliness."

Von Amerling, when he wasn't busy sating the king's ego, worked quite a lot on satisfying his own, as seen in his many self-portraits
Friedrich Amerling (the von came only after he became a nobleman) was the son of a gold and silversmith named Franz Amerling and his wife, Theresia. He studied from 1815 to 1824 at the Vienna Academy of the Arts before journeying to Prague. There he studied at the Academy until 1826. He spent 1827 and 1828 in London, where he was influenced by the portrait painter Sir Thomas Lawrence. Further journeys led him to Paris, and Rome; he then returned to Vienna, where after 1828 he worked for the Austrian court, the aristocracy and middle class. He received the Reichel prize of the academy in Vienna in 1829.

Von Amerling was especially regarded for the complex compositions of his intimate family portraits similar to these.
Friedrich von Amerling was married four times: to Antonie Kaltenthaler from 1832 until her death in 1843. He married Katharina Heissler the following year. That union ending in divorce a year later. From 1857 until her death in 1880, Von Amerling third wife was Emilie Heinrich. And finally he was married to Maria Nemetschke from 1881 until his death in 1887. In 1878 Amerling was elevated to the nobility and was called Friedrich Ritter von Amerling. As one of the most outstanding artists of Vienna, he received numerous important academics (such as Franz Liszt) at his home. In 1858 he acquired the Gumpendorf castle in Vienna and equipped it after his taste with valuable art treasures. The building was therefore called, in the vernacular, Amerlingschloessl.

Friedrich von Amerling was also quite adept at painting
charming young children including those of his own family
During his lifetime, von Amerling received numerous honors, including the Orden der Eisernen Krone in 1879. Upon his death in 1887, a street in Vienna was designated the Amerlingstrasse in his name. He was buried in the Viennese central cemetery, where he is commemorated with a monument designed by Johannes Benk. in 1902, the same artist also created the Amerling monument in the Vienna City Park. Amerling created over 1000 works, mostly portraits. He was the most popular portrait painter of high aristocracy and the growing middle classes of the Biedermeier period. The years from 1830 to 1850 represent the high point of his work. His style has points of similarity to that of Ingres, combining clarity of outline with rich coloration. Amerling's work was last exhibited in Vienna in 2003, however most of his work remains in Austria.

Portrait study, ca.1832, Friedrich von Amerling.

A pet portrait by von Amerling


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