FÜGER, Friedrich Heinrich
(b. 1751, Heilbronn, d. 1818, Wien)


German painter. At the age of eight he was already painting miniature portraits. In 1764 he entered the Hohe Karlsschule in Stuttgart and received drawing lessons from Nicolas Guibal. Overawed by the great historical paintings in the ducal gallery, he lost heart and moved to Halle to study law; but in 1771 public demand for his miniatures encouraged him to return to painting, and in that year he moved to Leipzig, to the school of Adam Friedrich Oeser, where he became acquainted with Classical art.

Returning from this two-year training, he was introduced to the works of the Italian Renaissance by Guibal. His fresh and natural miniature portraits on ivory remained in demand; portraits of his parents (1774; Vienna, Akademie für Bildende Kunst) also date from these years. During a stay in Dresden, Füger met the British Ambassador, Sir Robert Murray Keith (1730-95). In 1774 he followed him to Vienna, where Keith organized numerous portrait commissions at the Austrian court.

From 1774 lived in Vienna and was supported by the imperial court. Travelled to Rome and Naples and studied the Italian masters. In 1795 became head of the Academy and was head of the Imperial Picture Gallery in Vienna from 1806. He was the master of several Hungarian painters and he worked in Hungary, too.

Recognised as the most important portraitist and miniaturist among Austrian aristocrats and is also known as a painter of historical subjects. Influenced by Mengs he paved the way for Austrian classicism. While his miniatures are often painted in a surprisingly easy style with fascinating colour combinations, he generally adhered to a strict style in his paintings, which clearly displayed his inclination to pathos and dramatic elements.