(b. 1667, Bazin, d. 1740, Nürnberg)


Self-portrait in Budapest

Bohemian painter. Kupecky the son of Czech parents who sought refuge in Hungary from religious persecution, was born in Bazin (near Bratislava) and throughout his life declared himself a Bohemus, a Czech. According to the sources he began his studies with the Swiss painter Benedikt Klaus, who was active in both Vienna and Hungary. At the age of twenty Kupecky went on a long Italian study trip. He returned to Vienna in 1709, after twenty-two years spent in Venice and Rome. We know very little of his Italian activity as well as his early works and his setting in Vienna.

According to his contemporary biographer, the Swiss Johann Caspar Füssli, the Protestant (Hussite) Kupecky, who faithfully clung to his ancestor's religion, remained withdrawn and isolated in Vienna's Catholic milieu, which was under the influence of the court and the aristocracy. However this concept is partly contradicted by the fact that the master had significant courtly commissions while working in Vienna. He painted portraits of various members of the dynasty, Prince Eugene of Savoy, several aristocrats, and, in Karlsbad, even of Czar Peter I. The rich ceuvre of this period comprises a series of gorgeous portraits of Kupecky's family, friends and the painter himself, as well as several persons, whose identity in unknown.

In 1733 Kupecky, fearing religious persecution, fled from Vienna to Nuremberg with his family and worked there until his death in 1740. As the most significant portrait painter of contemporary Germany, he was commissioned by a large number of German princes, church dignitaries rich merchants and scholars, and his works were popularized by engravings even during his lifetime. Through his pupils and followers Kupecky's influence and artistic example remained alive and widespread for a long time.

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