German artist Robert Julius Beyschlag cultivated an internationally acclaimed career bursting with romantic and emotional genre scenes. Working from Munich, Beyschlag tended to a rich array of paintings in keeping with the popular style in Germany during the 19th century.
The significance of Beyschlag’s presence in Munich goes beyond geography. Munich was the beating heart of the art world in Germany, the Academy of Fine Arts was one of the most prestigious in Europe. It also produced a group of artists who became known collectively as the ‘Munich School.’
The emotionally rich yet naturalistic execution of their works appealed to the middle-class society which was growing culturally and fiscally powerful. Scenes which promoted an idyllic, traditional homely life were particularly popular. People desired idealism but painted with such realism that they did not appear too fantastical. They wanted to believe the works could emulate the lifestyle they believed culturally superior.
Beyschlag’s scenes of delicately refined women completing tasks of domesticity and philanthropy are overflowing with elegance. Their exquisitely fashioned bodies are postured with grace. Beyschlag’s detailed treatment of their garments is complemented well by the lustrous veil cast over his pleasant skies and verdant views. The landscapes which bow to these women are touched with just as much sophistication. These scenes of idyllic life appealed greatly to a middle-class audience.
Beyschlag was also able to depict much more emotionally divisive, although not any less beautiful, scenes. A woman dressed in country clothing sits slumped amongst dewy grass. She has her head in her hand, her face shadowed, expression contemplative. Her moment of mediation is juxtaposed with a glorious sun setting in a wash of saccharine peaches. This apposition between the emotion of the scene and the contemplation of the female figure creates an emotive and thought-provoking image.
Also popular at this time were scenes of mythology and romanticised depictions of times gone by. These also brought Beyschlag much success. His image of Psyche, the Greek goddess of the soul, enjoyed international acclaim. So, too, did his publication ‘Female Costume Pictures,’ in which Beyschlag compiled images of women adorned in the dress of the many centuries of western human history. ‘A beautiful work of artistic illustration,’ critics praised, ‘representing ideal figures of female grace and loveliness.’ Whilst Beyschlag’s subjects were the epitome of the 19th-century standards for female beauty, the incredibly detailed touch to his work also saw him praised for his historical specificity. Looking back to the past whilst also framing it within an idealistic paradigm was exactly what a 19th-century audience desired.
Beyschlag came from a long line of artistic and creative types. The earliest known ancestor of his who practised painting dates back to the 17th-century. Owing to the culturally significant time in which he was producing art, Beyschlag is the most well-known of his line. His works are now indicative and delightful examples of the desirable idealism of 19th-century German society.
Born in Nördlingen.
Exhibited at the Vienna Exposition.
Died in Munich.