Biedermeier Style (1815-1848)

Biedermeier was an influential German and Austrian artistic movement (literature, music, the visual arts and furniture) that evolved during the years 1815–1848.

Chamber painting of a Biedermeier style, 1825, by Leopold Zielcke.
Chamber painting of a Biedermeier style, 1825, by Leopold Zielcke. Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biedermeier#/media/File:Zimmerbild.jpg

 

what is the meaning of “beiedermeier”?

The term became widespread in the 1850s as a pejorative, borrowed from a character created by the writers Adolf Kussmaul and Ludwig Eichrodt, and stood for the petty bourgeois apolitical and conservative, only interested in their family life.

It consists of two words:


  • the simple adjective, simpleton (bieder, but that also means intact, honest)
  • and one of the most common German surnames Meier (or Maier).

Info source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biedermeier

 

Diffusion:

Biedermeier period began with the time of the Congress of Vienna (1815) at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, and ended with the onset of the European revolutions in 1848.

It was the age of the Austrian Chancellor Metternich, Prince Metternich, whose diplomacy and influence dominated much of the post-Napoleonic period. It was a period of conservative politics in reaction to the horrors and chaos of the French Revolution and Napoleons wide-reaching conquests.

For this reason Biedermeier was often referred to as the Restoration style, born of the “desire for normality“.

Info source: http://www.biedermeier-vienna.com/biedermeier.html; https://www.britannica.com/art/Biedermeier-style

  

WHICH ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT BIEDERMEIER DESIGNERS?

Despite the conservative politics was a period of great creativity.

Great names like Beethoven, Schubert, Johann Strauss the Elder and Joseph Lanner dominated the Viennese music scene.

The most representative painters include Franz Krüger, Georg Friedrich Kersting, Julius Oldach, Carl Spitzweg, and Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller.

Woman Embroidering, Biedermeier-style painting by Georg Friedrich, 1814.
Woman Embroidering, Biedermeier-style painting by Georg Friedrich, 1814. Image source: https://www.britannica.com/art/Biedermeier-style

The most important artistic talent among the Viennese cabinet makers was Josef Danhauser (1780-1829). His drawings were greatly appreciated and popular in Europe and two thousand of his original sketches are preserved to this day in a museum.

Side chair, Josef Danhauser, 1820, Vienna.
Side chair, Josef Danhauser, 1820, Vienna. Image source: http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection

 

Style characteristics:

Biedermeier designs were simplified forms of the French Empire and Directoire styles and of some 18th-century English styles, and were often elegant in their utilitarian simplicity.

Vienna was in many ways a spiritual and artistic center, strong enough to blend the most varied impulses into its own synthesis.

  • Elegant and functional
  • Materials: primarily in walnut or cherry
  • Use (to capture the attention) the natural beauty of the veneers
  • cornices, columns, capitals, beams, ornamental gables and pillars were taken from classical architecture
  • The cabinets were decorated with small ebony columns.
  • The glass doors of cabinets were decorated with wooden ornaments
  • Backed-chairs were carved, and chairs had curved legs.
  • The capitals were carved
  • Motifs: sphinxes, cherubs, Hermes, swans, and lion’s paws were borrowed from ancient mythology.

Info source: https://www.britannica.com/technology/furniture/History; http://www.biedermeier-vienna.com/biedermeier.html; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biedermeier

Chairs in biedermeier style, walnut veneer. Vienna, 1825.
Chairs in biedermeier style, walnut veneer. Vienna, 1825.

 

An elegant armchair in biedermeier style, cherry veneer. Vienna 1825.
An elegant armchair in biedermeier style, cherry veneer. Vienna 1825.

 

 

Table in biedermeier style, Vienna, 1820.
Table in biedermeier style, Vienna, 1820.

 

An elegant, rare Biedermeier bench. Bookmached walnut veneer with ebonized columns and high block feet. French polish finish. Austria, 1830.
An elegant, rare Biedermeier bench.
Bookmached walnut veneer with ebonized columns and high block feet. French polish finish. Austria, 1830.

 

Images source: http://www.biedermeier-vienna.com/biedermeier.html

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