Nazarene movement

The epithet Nazarene was adopted by a group of early 19th century German Romantic painters who aimed to revive honesty and spirituality in Christian art. The name Nazarene came from a term of derision used against them for their affectation of a biblical manner of clothing and hair style.

In Jacob encountering Rachel with her father's herd, Joseph von Führich attempts to recapture the mood of Perugino and Raphael, 1836 (Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna).


In 1809, six students at the Vienna Academy formed an artistic cooperative in Vienna called the Brotherhood of St. Luke or Lukasbund, following a common name for medieval guilds of painters. In 1810 four of them, Johann Friedrich Overbeck, Franz Pforr, Ludwig Vogel and Johann Konrad Hottinger moved to Rome, where they occupied the abandoned monastery of San Isidoro. They were joined by Philipp Veit, Peter von Cornelius, Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow and a loose grouping of other German artists. They met up with Austrian romantic landscape artist Joseph Anton Koch (1768–1839) who became an unofficial tutor to the group. In 1827 they were joined by Joseph von Führich (1800–1876) (illustration above right).

Joseph Anton Koch 004
Joseph Anton Koch, Detail of the Dante-Cycle in the Casino Massimo

The principal motivation of the Nazarenes was a reaction against Neoclassicism and the routine art education of the academy system. They hoped to return to art which embodied spiritual values, and sought inspiration in artists of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, rejecting what they saw as the superficial virtuosity of later art.

In Rome the group lived a semi-monastic existence, as a way of re-creating the nature of the medieval artist's workshop. Religious subjects dominated their output, and two major commissions allowed them to attempt a revival of the medieval art of fresco painting. Two fresco series were completed in Rome for the Casa Bartholdy (1816–17) (moved to the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin) and the Casino Massimo (1817–29), and gained international attention for the work of the 'Nazarenes'. However, by 1830 all except Overbeck had returned to Germany and the group had disbanded. Many Nazarenes became influential teachers in German art academies.


The programme of the Nazarenes—the adoption of honest expression in art and the inspiration of artists before Raphael—was to exert considerable influence in Germany, and in England upon the Pre-Raphaelite movement. In their abandonment of the academy and their rejection of much official and salon art, the Nazarenes can be seen as partaking in the same anti-scholastic impulse that would lead to the avant-garde in the later nineteenth century.

Notable members

Other painters associated with the movement

See also

Further reading

  • Mitchell Benjamin Frank. Romantic Painting Redefined: Nazarene Tradition and the Narratives of Romanticism. Ashgate Publishing, 2001; ISBN 0-7546-0477-2
  • Cordula Grewe. "Painting the Sacred in the Age of German Romanticism." Aldershot: Ashgate Books, 2009.
  • Lionel Gossman. "Making of a Romantic Icon: The Religious Context of Friedrich Overbeck's 'Italia und Germania.'" American Philosophical Society, 2007. ISBN 0-87169-975-3. [1]
  • Lionel Gossman. "Unwilling Moderns: The Nazarene Painters of the Nineteenth Century" in Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide – Volume 2, Issue 3, Autumn 2003.

External links

Adolf Zimmermann

Adolf Gottlob Zimmermann (1 September 1799, Lodenau, Upper Lusatia – 17 July 1859, Breslau) was a German painter. He belonged to the Düsseldorf branch of the Nazarene movement.

Carl Gottlieb Peschel

Carl Gottlieb Peschel (31 March 1798, Dresden – 3 July 1879, Dresden) was a German painter. He was a member of the Nazarene movement.

Claudi Lorenzale

Claudi Lorenzale i Sugrañes (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈklau̯ði loɾẽn̟ˈθale i suˈɣɾaɲes]; December 8, 1814 – March 31, 1889) was a Spanish painter, associated with the German Nazarene movement and local efforts to recover the history of the Catalan region.

Friedrich Wasmann

Rudolph Friedrich Wasmann (8 August 1805, Hamburg – 10 May 1886, Merano) was a German-born painter in the Biedermeier style. He spent most of his life in a part of the Tyrol that is now in Italy.

Friedrich von Olivier

Woldemar Friedrich von Olivier (23 April 1791 in Dessau – 5 September 1859 in Dessau) was a German history painter in the Romantic style, often associated with the Nazarene movement.

Gebhard Flatz

Johann Gebhard Flatz (11 June 1800 in Wolfurt – 19 May 1881 in Bregenz) was an Austrian painter of the Nazarene movement.

Heinrich Maria von Hess

Heinrich Maria von Hess (April 19, 1798 – 1863) was a German painter, a member of the Nazarene movement.

Johann Anton Ramboux

Johann Anton Alban Ramboux (5 October 1790, Trier - 2 October 1866, Cologne) was a German painter and lithographer.

Johann Michael Wittmer

Johann Michael Wittmer (15 October 1802, Murnau am Staffelsee - 9 May 1880, Munich) was a German painter who came from a family of painters and sculptors and was associated with the "Deutschrömer" (Germans artists and writers who lived in Rome). He is often referred to as "Johann Michael Wittmer II", to distinguish him from an earlier family member of the same name.

Johann Scheffer von Leonhardshoff

Johann Evangelist Scheffer von Leonhardshoff (30 October 1795, Vienna - 12 January 1822, Vienna) was an Austrian painter and graphic artist associated with the Nazarene movement.

Josef von Hempel

Sebastian Josef Ritter und Edler von Hempel (9 February 1800, Vienna - 2 September 1871, Tokod) was an Austrian painter of the Nazarene movement and an author.

Joseph Anton Settegast

Joseph Anton Nikolaus Settegast (8 February 1813, Koblenz - 19 March 1890, Mainz) was a German church painter and one of the last representatives of the Nazarene movement.

Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (26 March 1794 – 24 May 1872) was a German painter, associated with the Nazarene movement.

Leopold Kupelwieser

Leopold Kupelwieser (17 October 1796, Markt Piesting – 17 November 1862, Vienna) was an Austrian painter, often associated with the Nazarene movement.

Ludovico Seitz

Ludovico Seitz (June 11, 1844 – January 18, 1908), also known as Ludwig Seitz, was an Italian painter.

Son of the German painter Alexander Maximilian Seitz (1811-1888), Ludovico adhered as his father to the Nazarene movement in painting. He executed the frescoes which decorate the German Chapel of the Basilica of Loreto (1892-1902), in panes with the stories of the Blessed Virgin. This is considered his most important work. He also executed frescoes in Santa Maria dell'Anima and in the Vatican and in the Djakovo cathedral in Croatia. He was director of the Pinacoteca Vaticana (part of the Vatican Museums). Among his students was Rosina Mantovani Gutti.

Nikola Aleksić

Nikola Aleksić (Stari Bečej, Austrian Empire, 1808 – Arad, Austria-Hungary, now Romania, 1 January 1873) was a Serbian artist. He was under the influence of the painting styles of the Nazarene movement and Biedermeier.

Pelegrí Clavé

Pelegrí Clavé i Roqué sometimes Pelegrin Clavé (17 June 1811 – 13 September 1880) was a Spanish painter in the Romantic style who lived and taught in Mexico for many years.

Theodor Rehbenitz

Theodor Markus Rehbenitz (2 September 1791, Borstel - 19 February 1861, Kiel) was a German painter and draftsman, associated with the Nazarene movement.

Vittoria Caldoni

Vittoria Candida Rosa Caldoni (6 March 1805 in Albano Laziale – 1872?/1890? in Russia) was the most popular model among the German artists residing in Rome in the early nineteenth-century; especially those associated with the Nazarene movement. Over 100 paintings with her image have survived.

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