TISCHBEIN, Johann Heinrich Wilhelm
(b. 1751, Haina, d. 1829, Eutin)


German painter, teacher and theorist, part of a family of artists from Hesse which between the early 18th century and the late 19th produced 28 artists and artisans, a third of them women, who were active throughout Germany and elsewhere in Europe. The family's three most famous members are known as 'der Kasseler' (Johann Heinrich Tischbein I), 'der Leipziger'(Johann Friedrich August Tischbein) and 'der Neapolitaner' or 'Goethe Tischbein' (Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein).

Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein (Goethe Tischbein) trained in 1776 under his uncle, Johann Heinrich Tischbein the Elder, in Kassel, and then moved to Hamburg to study with another uncle, Jacob Tischbein (1725–91). From both teachers he imbibed the courtly, late Baroque style then fashionable in Germany. His instruction was mainly in portrait painting with a smattering of landscape painting. In Hamburg he also studied history painting in the company of his cousin Johann Dietrich Lilly (1705–92), who was both painter and art dealer, by copying works by the Old Masters. During the 1770s, Tischbein travelled to the Netherlands and worked in Bremen and Hannover, before finally settling in Berlin in 1777. Over the next two years he established himself as a portrait painter to the Prussian court.

He became dissatisfied with portraiture and went to Munich, where he studied Dürer and the early German painters. From 1779 to 1781 he undertook his first trip to Italy, staying mainly in Rome. There he studied at the private academy run by the Swiss sculptor Alexander Trippel, from whom he learnt the principles of the Neo-classical style of which he subsequently became a leading exponent.

In 1783 he was in Rome for the second time and began to paint history pictures, but in 1786 he met Goethe, and in 1786/88 he painted the Goethe in The Roman Campagna (Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt) on which his reputation chiefly rests. In 1789 he became director of the Naples Academy, and from 1791 supervised the engraving of the Greek vases belonging to Sir William Hamilton which were so important in the spread of Neoclassicism. Many of his etchings are illustrations for the works of Homer. In Naples he painted the famous beauty Charlotte Campbell as Erato (c. 1790, Edinburgh). He returned to Germany in 1799.