Biedermeier Style (1815-1848)

“Biedermeier” is a style that flourished in German Design, during the dawn of the art of Romanticism.

Romania-1928 - Biedermeier Salon
Romania-1928 – Biedermeier Salon

Image source: by archer10 (Dennis)

Gossip, Giovanni Boldini (Italian, Ferrara 1842–1931 Paris), Oil on wood
(Biedermeier style room) Gossip, 1873-Giovanni Boldini (Italian, Ferrara 1842–1931 Paris), Oil on wood

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What is the Meaning of “Biedermeier”?

The name of the Biedermeier style comes from the name of a fictional character (Gottlieb Biedermeier). It was invented by the writers Adolf Kussmaul and Ludwig Eichrodt, who wrote for the satirical magazine of the period, Munich Fliegende Blatter. Biedermeier represents the German middle class because the Biedermeier style was created for this public. The word was composed of:

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

File:Mahoniehouten Biedermeier tafelpiano, objectnr 8541(1).JPG
Mahoniehouten Biedermeier tafelpiano-1820,1850 
Image source: by Museum Rotterdam
Side chair (one of a pair), Circle of Josef Danhauser 's K.K. Priv. Möbel-Fabrik, Vienna, Beech and pine wood, cherrywood veneer, ebonized mahogany framing strips; modern silk upholstery, Austrian, Vienna
Side chair (one of a pair) ca. 1815–20- Circle of Josef Danhauser

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The Biedermeier period began with the Congress of Vienna when the Napoleonic Wars ended. Under the Austrian Chancellor Metternich was a time of conservative politics to react to the scary days of the French Revolution. For this reason, Biedermeier was introduced as a Restoration style, or else a desire for a normal life.

Romania-1928 - Biedermeier Salon
Romania-1928 – Biedermeier Salon

Image source: by archer10 (Dennis)

The Most Important Biedermeier Designers

Despite the conservative politics, it was a period of productive creativityThe most important painters were Franz Krüger, Georg Friedrich Kersting, Julius Oldach, Carl Spitzweg, and Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller.

Georg Friedrich Kersting. Woman Embroidering, Biedermeier-style. Oil on canvas, c. 1814; in the Kunstsammlungen, Weimar, Germany.

Image source: by fluor_doublet

Josef Danhauser was a painter and also a designer, born in an Austrian family of artists. His father was Josef Ulrich Danhauser. His sketches were greatly appreciated and famous in Europe. Several original drawings of his works are preserved today in museums.

Wein, Weib und Gesang
Wein, Weib und Gesang_ 1839_ by Josef Danhauser

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Frauenporträt_ 1836, by Josef Danhauser

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Style Characteristics

Biedermeier painters tell us about historical fiction and country life, depicting comfortable homely existence. This atmosphere was changing by the time of the revolutions in Europe in 1848.  Biedermeier designs come from the simple forms of French Empire and Directoire styles. Vienna was in many ways a relevant center for this style, strong enough to fuse various impulses into a balanced synthesis.  The most important collection of Viennese Biedermeier paintings is available in the Belvedere Palace Museum in Vienna.

Biedermeier pieces
Biedermeier pieces

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