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Moritz von Schwind

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Born at Vienna, 1804; died at Munich, 1871. A painter possessing an inexhaustible wealth of ideas, specially gifted for incisive individualization, and perfectly familiar with the entire range of tones and the power of expression by mien, movement, pose, and costume, he was one of the ornaments of the Munich school of art. He was above all a draughtsman and painter of small details, understanding how to make small pictures harmonious both in colour and composition. He was by nature inclined to the Romantic school of thought and feeling and this tendency, much developed in the studio of Ludwig Schnorr von Caroldfeld, was still more so by his Catholic education. After a journey to Rome, the painting of frescoes at Carlsruhe, and a short stay at Frankfort, he came in 1847 to Munich where Cornelius gained great influence over him. The spirit of his art is that of the minnesingers, of Eichendorff, and of Bretano. The material upon which he worked was nature and life, especially child-life, lyrically and poetically conceived, drawing and painting in water-colours being the mediums in which he best expressed his thoughts. Among his fellow artists Richter and Steinle stand probably in the closest relation to him. He set a high value on religious painting, and though he thought it less suited to his talents, he did not neglect it altogether. In the castle on the Wartburg he painted fine frescoes of the works of mercy and the life of St. Elizabeth , which recall the early Renaissance ; he also painted there the history of the Thuringian rulers and the Sängerkrieg . The work for the altar of the Church of Our Lady at Munich is splendid in tone and the coloured cartoons for painted windows which were executed at Oxford and London are also greatly esteemed. At Carlsruhe he adorned the academy of art with entertaining frescoes characterizing art. The easel-picture "Ritter Kurts's Search for a Wife" had gained the commission for him, for the delightful humor of his popular creations is not spoiled by flippancy. Other excellent easel pictures are in the Schack gallery at Munich. In his oil-paintings, however, the harmonious combination of the parts with the whole and of the colour with the drawing are often lacking. In the frescoes the professional water-colour painter is evident. As a water-colour painter he attained his greatest triumphs in the cyclus of the Seven Ravens, and in that of the legend of Melusine.

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