Austrian artist Emanuel Stöckler painted finely detailed, incredibly realistic interior portraits and sweeping landscapes of countries across Europe and the Middle East. Courting popularity in both his homeland and the royal courts of Europe, Stöckler is a fascinating example of a 19th-century Austrian artist.
Born to a pharmacist, Stöckler’s father had dreams of his son becoming a doctor. For Stöckler, however, the draw towards an artistic career was too strong to resist. He began his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in the Austrian capital of Vienna. Here, he studied under landscape artists Thomas Ender (1793-1875) and Joseph Mössmer (1780-1845).
Stöckler showed much artistic promise in his student days. He was the recipient of two awards, including the Gundel-Prize, and would begin a nearly 15-year tradition of exhibiting at the Academy. Once his studies were completed, however, new horizons were beckoning.
Stöckler undertook travels across Europe, beginning close to home in Hungary, before travelling further afield to Switzerland and Italy. He even went as far as Istanbul in the Middle East. Perhaps inspired by his teachings under Ender and Mössmer, Stöckler began producing landscapes depicting both nature’s grand expanses, and the man-made majesty of cities.
In these works, Stöckler displays an attention to detail and an ability to capture perspective which would become his hallmark. Utilising both watercolours and oils, Stöckler captures the canals of Venice in glimmering vibrancy, azure water bouncing off sun-kissed building walls. Clouds clamour to cover a lucid sky, hanging over a scopious vista of the Middle East.
Stöckler was uncommon during his time for travelling as far as the Middle East. A contemporary fascination with what were considered far-off and very different lands helped build interest in his art. It would be remiss not to mention that European works of this genre, known as ‘Orientalist,’ could be influenced by Western perceptions and fantasies. Stöckler seems to approach his paintings with the same detail and specificity as he applies to views of the other places to which he travelled, however it is worth considering the context in which he was painting.
It seems travels became a very common aspect of Stöckler’s career. They took him to many different places and awarded him the attention of royalty. He worked for a time for Gheorghe Bibescu, the Prince of Wallachia. For a period of five years from 1875-1880, he also worked for the Russian Tsarina Maria Alexandrovna.
As well as landscapes, Stöckler also developed a penchant for interior portraits. Incredibly popular during the 19th century, interior portraits required incredibly detailed documentation of a room or a series of rooms. Clients usually wanted to show off their wealth through these images, each expensive piece of furniture and lavish artwork or wall decoration documented in miniature. They also proved popular for posterity, a record of the time.
Stöckler fulfils a historical service with his highly intricate and realistic interior portraits. The palaces of royalty and the interiors of many of his travels are frozen in time, captured for the viewer. The savvy and sophisticated understanding of depth and dimension Stöckler had applied to his landscapes is even more impressive in these works.
One feels as if they could step into the interiors, they are captured with such truthfulness. Stöckler applies his watercolours with discernment, capturing the glint of gold mirrors, the folds of plush, rich fabrics.
Despite finding success abroad, Stöckler also displayed loyalty to his homeland. Not only was he a frequent exhibitor with the Austrian Art Association, he was also a member of the Vienna Society of Artists. His work was also recognised by Austrian leader Emperor Franz Joseph. In 1851, the Emperor gifted Stöckler’s view of the Great Bazaar in Constantinople to British monarch Queen Victoria.
Indeed, in 1879 he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Imperial Austrian Order for contributing a collection of seals to the historical research institute. Stöckler was devoted to furthering the cause of Austrian art.
Emanuel Stöckler was an incredibly important and much-respected artist in 19th-century Austria. He undertook important documentation in a time before photography, whilst also producing works of beautiful skill and execution.
Born in Nikolsburg, Moravia (now Mikulov, Czech Republic).
Awarded the Gundel-Prize by the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.
Exhibited at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.
Travelled to Switzerland.
Awarded the Füger Prize.
Exhibited with the Austrian Art Association.
Travelled to Britain.
Opened studio in Venice, Italy.
Worked as court painter to Tsarina Maria Alexandrovna in St Petersburg, Russia.
Became a member of the Vienna Künstlerhaus. Exhibited at the Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia, USA.
Awarded the Knight's Cross of the Imperial Austrian Order of Franz Joseph.
Died in Bozen, Italy.