(b. 1794, Leipzig, d. 1872, Dresden)

Madonna and Child

Oil on canvas, 74 x 62 cm
Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne

The experience of Italy was not only decisive for the majority of German landscape artists of the nineteenth century but also for figurative painting, secular as well as sacred. In 1818 Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld moved to Rome from his home town of Leipzig. There he joined the Lukas-Bund (Guild of St Luke), an artists' group originally set up by Friedrich Overbeck and Franz Pforr in Vienna in opposition to the academy there. After Overbeck and Pforr had moved to Rome the Lukas-Bund exercised great influence (though Pforr died in 1812), and not only on the German artists in Rome. The members of the group, called the 'Nazarenes' after their long hair like Christ's, wanted to return to what they saw as the simple truth and piety of Dürer and the early Italian Renaissance. They tried in their work to employ the forms, style and colour of the Old Masters. The composition and clear luminous colour of the Madonna and Child illustrates Schnorr's intensive, creative relationship with the Italian Renaissance.