Tischbein, Johann Heinrich (1722-1789)

Tischbein, Johann Heinrich (1722-1789)
Tischbein, Johann Heinrich (1722-1789)

German artist Johann Heinrich Tischbein the Elder is predominantly known for alluring portraiture in the Rococo spirit. He also produced historical works and mythological scenes, often featuring members of the nobility.

Born in Haina, Germany, he received a remarkable education under three masters - Johann Georg von Freese (1701-1775), Carle van Loo (1705-1765) in Paris and Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (1682/1683-1754) in Rome. During his formative years, he also gained further experience working as a court painter.

The Tischbein family tree is peppered with artists spanning three generations with over 14 of them becoming either painters or etchers. Johann Heinrich is considered one of the leading lights and looked upon as a key figure in mid to late 18th-century German art more broadly. His portraits are sumptuous and delicately rendered, while his mythological works carry a sense of light-hearted continental splendour - figures blush with near-porcelain skin.

Following a stay in Italy, he was appointed court painter to William VIII and produced some of his finest works. The upper nobility adored him and he was soon inundated with commissions. And, much like his contemporary François Boucher in Paris, he somewhat flattered each sitter, elevating their grace while downplaying their wrinkles.

Johann Heinrich Tischbein

Johann Heinrich Tischbein, The Nine Muses - Thalia (1771)

Johann Heinrich Tischbein

Johann Heinrich Tischbein, Portrait Of Prince Charles Of Hesse Kassel

Elegance personified.

Johann Heinrich Tischbein

Johann Heinrich Tischbein, Portrait Of A Young Girl With A Rose

Johann Heinrich Tischbein

Johann Heinrich Tischbein, Portrait Of Amalie Apell (1777-1780)

With self-portraits, he was a little less flattering.

Johann Heinrich Tischbein

Johann Heinrich Tischbein, Self-Portrait (1782)

Today, as we look back across Tischbein’s sparkling oeuvre, he stands confidently alongside the key players in Rococo portraiture. But, perhaps because he was German rather than French, remains underrated despite his abundant expertise.

He’s represented at the British Museum, Royal Collection Trust, Staedel Museum, Birmingham Museum, The Met, Harvard Art Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.


Born in Haina, Germany, the son of Johann Tischbein (1682-1764), a baker. Four of his seven brothers became painters.


Studied wallpaper painting.

Studied under Johann Georg von Freese (1701-1775).

Worked in various courts.


Studied in Paris under Carle van Loo (1705-1765) - funded by the patronage of Count Johann Philipp von Stadion.


Studied in Venice under Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (1682/1683-1754).

C. 1750

Spent a year in Rome.


Appointed court painter to William VIII.


Appointed a Professor at the Collegium Carolinum in Kassel.


Died in Kassel, Germany.

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