Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller
Beginning as a theater set painter and copyist in his home city of Vienna, Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller was a late bloomer when it came to developing his own artistic language. Most painters as skilled as Waldmüller in the mid-1800s typically produced epic scenes of mythological figures and fantastical worlds, but Waldmüller preferred painting from nature and from life. This preference resulted in an oeuvre of landscapes and “slice of life” scenes. As an art teacher later in life, Waldmüller believed that studying nature closely was the best artistic training—and he practiced what he taught. Waldmüller’s natural landscapes are almost photographic, and while he keeps visible brushstrokes in his figures, his expert sense of accurate color and proportions transfers to disparate subjects. Surprisingly, Waldmüller’s theories on studying nature were controversial in Vienna and he was ousted from the Viennese art academy in 1863, but was welcomed back two years later when the established pedagogies caught up to his innovative methodologies.