LESSING, Karl Friedrich
(b. 1808, Breslau, d. 1880, Karlsruhe)


German painter, great-nephew of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781), philosopher, dramatist, and critic. He studied architecture in Berlin at the Königliche Bau-Akademie under Karl Friedrich Schinkel, before transferring to the Kunstakademie, where he became a pupil of Wilhelm Schadow in 1825. The next year Lessing followed Schadow to Düsseldorf, where the latter had been appointed Director of the Kunstakademie. He exercised great influence on the Düsseldorf school; his picture Das trauernde Königspaar (Mourning Royal Couple) brought him great popularity. In 1837, he received a gold medal at Paris; he was a member of the Berlin Academy and was the recipient of several orders.

Almost to the end of his career Lessing was to follow Schadow's rules for a standard series of procedures in the production of a finished work: compositional sketch, oil study, detailed model study, cartoon and underdrawing for the final painting. Without an official position, Lessing worked at the Düsseldorf Akademie until 1858, when he was appointed Director of the Grossherzogliche Gemäldegalerie in Karlsruhe, a position he held until his death.

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