Friedrich Preller the Elder
1804 Eisenach – Weimar 1878

German painter, draughtsman and etcher

From 1818 until 1821 Preller studied at the academy of art in Weimar under H. Meyer (1760-1832). Supported by Goethe he stayed in Dresden from 1821 until 1823. Awarded by Karl August, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, he studied in Antwerp under P.J. van Bree (1786-1871) from 1824 until 1826.

1828-1831 he lived and worked in Rome where he mainly was influenced by J.A. Koch (1768-1839) and by the landscape painters Cl. Lorrain (1600-1682), N. Poussin (1594-1665) and G. Dughet (1613-175); the friendship with B. Genelli (1798-1868) affected his style to paint figures. From Rome he visited Olevano and Naples.

In 1832 he got an art teacher at the academy of arts in Weimar and the progress of the academy was mainly influenced by him for more than 30 years. In 1844 he became professor and painter at court, in 1868 director of the academy.

From 1834 until 1836 he made 6 paintings with scenes from the Odyssey. In the following years (until 1848) he created - commissioned by the Grand Duke Karl August - frescoes with the same motifs. 1859/1860 he was again in Italy to visit Sorrent and Capri to make sketches. The Odyssey became his main subject and made him famous. Altoghether he used this theme 12 times for frescoes, paintings, drawings and for different graphic works of art.

In 1837 he travelled for the first time - for health reasons - to Rügen and again in 1839, 1847 and 1872. In 1840 his enthusiasm for northern countries led him to Norway. These journeys caused and inforced his interest to create paintings of melancholic northern landscapes and wild seascapes which dominated his later period and founded his reputation as an important artist for these genres.

Literature: Ina Weinrautner: Friedrich Preller d.Ä. (1804-1878). Leben und Werk. Münster 1997.


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