From the 16th to the 18th century
Against the background of dramatic political, cultural and religious contrasts, the personalities of A. Dürer stand out with exceptional vigor, who finds a dialectic synthesis between fantasy and Nordic sensitivity and Italian formal research, by M. Grünewald, with characters of violent visionary expressiveness, of H. Holbein the Younger, with keen observer skills. In the Rhineland the dominant personality is H. Baldung Grien. Around 1500, the Danubian school assumes its own characteristics, with strong interests in the landscape, with J. Breu and above all A. Altdorfer ; L. Cranach also trained there, from 1505 in Wittenberg. In Augusta, H. Burgkmair works which, like the artists already mentioned, also contributes to the affirmation of graphics.
Various schools develop in the field of sculpture: the Vischer workshop in Nuremberg, A. Daucher in Augsburg, H. Leinberger in Bavaria, C. Meit in Worms. At the turn of the 16th century the painting is represented by the mannerism of the Rudolf painters in Prague (B. Spranger) and of P. Candid in Munich. In the architectural field, alongside a superficial revival of Italian models, there is a typically German Renaissance style which finds its highest expression in the Heidelberg Castle, in the Munich residence and in the Augusta Town Hall by E. Holl (1615-20). The reciprocal interplay of the forces of the Counter-Reformation and Protestantism favors opposing tendencies, which took place in parallel.
Like painting, which at the beginning of the 17th century. has in A. Elsheimer and J. Liss the most significant exponents who complete their training in Italy, architecture on the one hand takes on an Italian orientation, as in the Catholic South (A. Barelli and E. Zuccalli), on the other Frankish -Dutch. The personalities of the Dientzenhofer (Bohemia etc.) emerge. The artists moved from court to court and, in the second half of the century, academies were founded; in Nuremberg J. von Sandrart with his Teutsche Academie (1675-79) wrote the first monumental German historiographical work.
Eighteenth-century architecture, inspired by Italian and French models, achieves results of exceptional inventive quality in complex plants, pictorial effects and exuberant decoration: in Franconia with JB Neumann, in Rhineland and in Saxony with MD Pöppelmann, in Bavaria with the brothers Asam, F. de Cuvilliés, JM Fischer, D. Zimmermann. The major center of painting, which is devoted mainly to the festive decoration of churches and palaces, is the southern Catholic Germany (CD Asam, J. Zich, JB Zimmermann). Main exponents of decorative sculpture are A. Schlüter in Berlin, B. Permoser in Dresden; for the transition period from baroque to neoclassicism the Viennese school with GR Donner influenced Bavarian sculpture (G. Günther, J. Straub).
The widespread production in the field of cabinet making and porcelain should not be forgotten. The vital Baroque tradition delays the affirmation of neoclassicism, theorized by JJ Winckelmann, which has one of the main representatives in AR Mengs. JG von Schadow, court sculptor in Berlin since 1788, tempered the neoclassical taste with a gentle naturalism.
The 19th century
Neoclassical architecture has Berlin as its main center with KF Schinkel, a pupil of F. Gilly, with whom L. von Klenze, active in Bavaria, was trained. Paleochristian and Romanesque elements characterize the Rundbogenstil (“style of the round arch”), which has the greatest exponent in F. von Gärtner, while a Neo-Renaissance imprint marks the work of Germany Semper, a prominent personality also in he theoretical and didactic field, for his research on art applied to industry and on functionality in architecture. In the pictorial field, the romantic movement presents itself with different nuances, expressing, basically, an introspective character and the impulse to reaffirm a national identity. PO Runge he studies the symbolic and psychological effects of colors, but his works remain tied to a classicist linearism. In CD Friedrich’s landscapes the cosmic inspiration joins the observation of nature. Notable landscape painter is also K. Blechen. Another typical aspect of German Romanticism is offered by the engaging portraits of GF Kerting. The religious commitment pushed the Nazarenes (F. Overbeck, F. Pforr, W. von Schadow, P. von Cornelius, J. Schnorr) to renew German art by seeking the purity and simplicity of the primitives.
Between 1830 and 1850, in contrast to academic classicism and romantic currents, Biedermeir painting also became popular, seeking an exact, naturalistic rendering of the life of the petty bourgeoisie (C. Spitzweg). A. von Menzel is a skilled draftsman and history painter; F. von Lenbach is a virtuoso portraitist; K. von Piloty creates historical paintings of dramatic realism. Strong personalities are A. Feuerbach, W. Leibl, H. von Marées; M. Liebermann is a significant exponent of the so-called German impressionism together with L. Corinth and M. Slevogt, who then turn to expressionistic modes. Until the middle of the century CD Rauch dominated in the field of sculpture, a pupil of Germany Schadow, while in the second half, alongside R. Begas emerge A. Hildebrandt, who with H. von Marées and C. Fiedler contributes to the elaboration of the theory of pure visibility (➔ # 10132;), and M Klinger, painter and engraver dedicated to sculpture since around 1885.