DIETRICH, Christian Wilhelm Ernst
(b. 1712, Weimar, d. 1774, Dresden)
German painter and etcher. He received his first training from his father, Johann Georg Dietrich (1684-1752), a court painter at Weimar, and was sent to Dresden at the age of 13 to study under the landscape painter Johann Alexander Thiele. In 1728 they travelled to Arnstadt to paint landscapes for stage sets. In 1730 Thiele presented his pupil to Frederick-Augustus I, Elector of Saxony, as a prodigy; Frederick-Augustus appointed him court painter and entrusted him to his minister Heinrich, Graf von Brühl, for whom he worked on some decorative paintings. From 1732 he used the name 'Dietricy' to sign his paintings.
He travelled in Germany from 1734 and may have visited the Netherlands, the source of his artistic inspiration. He returned from his travels in 1741 and was appointed court painter to Frederick-Augustus II, Elector of Saxony, who sent him to Italy in 1743 to study. He visited Venice and Rome but returned to Dresden in 1744. In 1748 he was appointed Inspector of the Gemäldegalerie in Dresden, which had recently become more influential because of important purchases from Italy. The following period saw Dietrich at the height of his success, and his works were in demand all over Europe.