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Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller Retrospective Opens at The Belvedere
Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, At the Blacksmith’s Workshop, 1854. Oil on wood, 58 x 45,5 cm. Private collection.
VIENNA.- Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (1793 – 1865) was one of the most important Austrian painters of the Biedermeier period. Whether it was the conquest of the landscape and thus the convincing rendering of closeness or distance, the accurate characterisation of the human face, the detailed and refined description of textures, or the depiction of rural everyday life: his works – brilliant, explanatory, moralising, and socially critical – influenced a whole generation of artists. Being an advocate of natural observation and plein air painting, as well as a critic of academic painting, Waldmüller was far ahead of his time.

The Belvedere accommodates the Waldmüller Archive and owns the most comprehensive collections of his works worldwide. In this retrospective, comprising some 120 works, masterpieces from the Belvedere’s holdings will be complemented by loans from national and international collections. Several paintings that were thought to be lost will be presented to the public for the first time.

Apart from his meticulous bent for observation, Waldmüller is also esteemed for his knowledge of nature, his taste for detail, his treatment of light and his talent as a colorist. A key figure in Austrian painting, who taught for a number of years at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and then pursued a career mainly as a portrait artist, Waldmüller was a leading representative of the Biedermeier style. Examples of this influence include his landscapes and scenes of everyday life, celebrating the materialistic values, refinement and elegance of the bourgeoisie of the time, but also his portraits and still lifes. A proponent of realism and exactitude, Waldmüller paints landscapes without any mythological embellishments, dramatization or other ornamentation.

This exhibition traces Waldmüller’s entire artistic career, his rigorous realism in the depiction of a society transformed by the upheavals of 1848—aristocrats, bourgeoisie and peasants are featured together in these paintings—his modernity and his keen interest in photography (which played a central role in his life work). The exhibition also underscores Waldmüller as a key influence on the Pre-Raphaelite painters in England who, in the middle of the 19th century, favored greater spontaneity in their art and a stronger connection with nature, as well as his impact, in the early 20th century, on the artists of the Secession movement who sought, particularly in Austria and Germany, to react against official art.


Belvedere | Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller | Biedermeier | Austria | Vienna | Germany | Louvre |


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