Grand Ducal Saxon Art School Weimar

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Grand Duke Carl Alexander of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach

The Großherzoglich-Sächsische Kunstschule Weimar was an educational institution with an artistic orientation founded by statute from October 1, 1860 by Grand Duke Carl Alexander von Sachsen-Weimar , which had existed until 1910. After that, after reorganization, it was raised to the rank of art college and was henceforth called the Grand Ducal Saxon University of Fine Arts in Weimar . It is not to be confused with the Princely Freyen Drawing School , which existed from 1776 to 1930 and, from 1860, prepared its students in a preliminary stage for admission to the art school. The former is the origin of today's Bauhaus University Weimar .

The Weimar School of Painting

In terms of art history, the term Weimarer Malerschule stands for a major trend in landscape painting in Germany from 1860 to 1900, which had its roots in the Barbizon school and is its German counterpart. It is the epitome of landscape painting in teaching, which had turned away from the tradition of studio painting and the requirements of neoclassicism and switched to open-air painting . In terms of art history, it is unique because the teachers at the painting school had turned away from the traditional view of landscape painting directly and neither through a counter-movement established outside the painting school, such as an artists' colony operating on their own, nor a Secession movement .

Weimar as an art center

Since 1776 the Princely Freye Drawing School was founded on the private initiative and with the help of Duke Karl August von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach . It made sense to encourage local craftsmen to improve the quality of local products in order to survive better on the market. After 1860 she took on the pre-school function for the Weimar School of Painting. It was here that the decision was made as to whether the candidate was accepted as a student in the Weimar School of Painting.

To the organization

Carl Hummel : Lonely Wildbachtal in the Mountains (1864), private property
Franz von Lenbach : The red umbrella (1880), Kunsthalle Hamburg

At the beginning of this painting school in 1860, the hierarchy of the subjects offered was abolished, which went hand in hand with the abolition of the hierarchy in the teaching body. This mainly concerned history painting, the genre and landscape painting, which were always valued at the art schools of that time. In addition, there was no class division and the students could choose their teacher themselves. This enabled the teacher to support his students individually throughout their stay. These major changes were only recorded in writing 14 years later, together with the patron, the Grand Duke.

A broad canon was offered to the students. Among other things, it included the subjects

  • Art history,
  • Aesthetics,
  • Costume customer,
  • Perspective,
  • Anatomy,
  • Figure painting,
  • Portrait painting,
  • History painting,
  • Genre painting,
  • Landscape painting
  • Animal painting and
  • Nature painting.

At the beginning of the course, drawing in the antique hall was a must.

The entire faculty took part in the appointment process for a new apprenticeship position. The final decision, however, remained with the sovereign.

This small painting school had 44 students in 1882 and 63 students by the winter semester 1887/88. Because of the achievement of its capacity, the number of students was limited from 1888. This capacity problem already existed in the 1960s when the administration decided in 1866 to look for new studio space in Weimar because the existing space was no longer sufficient. The annual fee, i.e. for two semesters, was 80 marks at the time. From 1895 this school was opened for the first time to aspiring artists.

The period from 1860 to 1900 and the turn of art

Leopold von Kalckreuth (1900): Harvest time, Kunsthalle Hamburg.
Carl Malchin (1882): - Use of the first threshing machine in Lankow near Schwerin, Dt. Historical Museum, Berlin.

On October 1, 1860, the Grand Duke Carl Alexander von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach founded the Grand Ducal Art School in Weimar together with the painter Stanislaus Graf von Kalkreuth . Initially, this art school was financed by the sovereigns themselves. In 1874 the first director, Count von Kalkreuth, resigned from his post. One of the decisive factors was tensions with the sovereign, which had their cause in the chosen path to training, the choice of teachers and the relationship with the Princely Freyen drawing school. His successor was the landscape painter Theodor Hagen , who pushed the opening of the education in the painting school in the direction of the Barbizon school.

Since 1866, works by representatives of the Grand Ducal Art School have been shown in the art building and at national and international exhibitions. This was done through direct support and support from the administration. In 1879 the great breakthrough of the Weimar School was to take place at the II. International Art Exhibition in Munich. It was a landscape painting by Theodor Hagen, which received special attention from the audience and critics. The name of the Weimar School of Painting finally emerged from the shadows and gained a very high status in Germany. The reality-oriented color and light treatment in panel painting was essential for the Weimar School.

In 1881 Theodor Hagen also resigned as director. He also faced the same problems as his predecessor and was not prepared enough for administrative work.

In 1889, Emil Heilbut's lecture brought movement to the conception of teaching in the orientation of students and freelance painters. In addition to his lecture on French Impressionism, he showed three works by Claude Monet .

Max Liebermann: Potato Harvest (1875), Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf
Theodor Hagen: Potato harvest , private property

The most famous student of the Weimar School of Painting was Max Liebermann . In addition to Lovis Corinth and Max Slevogt, he is one of those artists in Germany who played a decisive role in the development of Impressionism .

In 1892 an art exhibition was held for the golden wedding of the ruling couple. This happened in connection with the opening of the new skylight hall in the exhibition area. Works of art from French Impressionism were shown, for example by Charles-François Daubigny , Jean-François Millet and Théodore Rousseau . This show was a great success.

The winter of 1900/1901 should mean the end for the Weimar School. Its sponsor and patron, Grand Duke Carl Alexander von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach, died on January 5th, 1901, and so the essential driving force was missing. Even if his successor initiated restructuring in accordance with the new social, cultural and industrial challenges, the Grand Ducal Saxon University of Fine Arts in Weimar, which existed from 1910, could no longer bring back the old marriage with its successes. In addition, the main heads of art education were either no longer involved in teaching for reasons of age or had died in the meantime. This was followed by a new generation of teachers who had opened up to the modern age , i.e. in the spiritual tradition of the teachers at the old Weimar University to open up to art.

In 1901, the art school was subordinated to the ministerial department of the Grand Ducal House and thus converted from one privately run by the former sovereign into a state institution .

Walther Scheidig (1902–1977), who was head of the State Art Collections in Weimar for many years, worked through the work of the Weimar School of Painting .

The Weimar School of Sculpture as successor

Bauhaus University Weimar - main building based on the design by Henry van der Velde, built 1904–1911.

Under Grand Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Sachsen-Weimar Eisenach , the Grand Ducal Saxon Art School Weimar was established by the painter Hans Olde (1855-1917) with Adolf Brütt (1855-1939) as head of the newly founded Weimar School of Sculpture (1905) and that of Henry van de Velde (1863–1957) headed the Grand Ducal Saxon School of Applied Arts in Weimar (1908) expanded into a Grand Ducal Saxon University of Fine Arts in Weimar (June 3, 1910). In 1910 Fritz Mackensen became director of the university.

Walter Gropius , who was still employed by Wilhelm Ernst, founded the State Bauhaus in Weimar in 1919 , from which the State University of Fine Arts was spun off on April 1, 1921 and then completely dissolved in 1925. Under Otto Bartning (1883–1959) the existing Weimar institutions were combined to form the State Building College and College of Crafts and Architecture . A reorganization as state universities for architecture, fine arts and crafts in Weimar took place under Paul Schultze-Naumburg (April 1, 1930). Ten years later, under the direction of Gerd Offenberg , the University of Architecture and Fine Arts was established with the rank of a technical university. Hermann Henselmann (1905–1995) continued to run the university from 1946 to 1951. The subsequent University of Architecture and Construction has been extensively restructured since the political change in 1989 and since May 17, 1996 has had the traditional name of Bauhaus-Universität Weimar .

The art school building

View of the entrance hall with the elliptical staircase and Rodin's "Eva"
Eye of the stairwell of the Bauhaus University (Van de Velde- Bau), here ceiling soffit.

The art school building (also known as the “studio building” ) was built in two construction phases in 1904/05 and 1911 opposite the arts and crafts school building from 1905/06 on what was then Kunstschulstrasse according to plans by Henry van de Velde . Both buildings are committed to Art Nouveau and are an expression of the beginning renewal of the architecture on the basis of a functional and material-appropriate design. When the Bauhaus was founded in 1919, it is one of the most important art school buildings of the turn of the century. Particularly noteworthy in the interior of the building are the wall designs by Herbert Bayer and Joost Schmidt , the skylight hall, the elliptical staircase and the "Eva" by Auguste Rodin .

In December 1996 the art school building was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List together with the arts and crafts school building (Van-de-Velde-Bau) . In 1999, the renovation under the direction of the architect Thomas van den Valentyn largely restored the original condition, including the Gropius room (director's room by Walter Gropius ) designed in 1923 as a "total work of art" for the Bauhaus exhibition in 1923 , which existed in its original state until spring 1925 .

As the main building of the Bauhaus University Weimar at Geschwister-Scholl-Straße 8, it is used today by the Faculty of Architecture with the Dean's Office, the Faculty of Design and the Rector's Office.


  • 1960 The Weimar School of Painting: Exhibition to commemorate the founding of the Weimar School of Art in 1860 , Weimar.
  • 2010 Out into nature! Barbizon, the Weimar School of Painting and the Departure to Impressionism , Weimar.
  • 2011 The Weimar School of Painting and the Weimarer Land , Kunsthaus Apolda Avantgarde , Apolda.
  • 2011 The Weimar School of Painting , Kleinsassen Art Station, Kleinsassen near Fulda.
  • until 2017: Permanent exhibition of the Klassik Stiftung Weimar : The Weimar School of Painting. Castle museum in the Weimar City Castle (currently closed due to renovation).

List of teachers and leaders

This list is ordered by the date of the appeal. It does not claim to be complete.

Surname Life
class Teacher
from / to
from / to
student Remarks
Stanislaus von Kalckreuth 1820-1894 1860-1876
Alexander Michelis 1823-1868 1863-1868
Arnold Böcklin 1827-1901 1860-1862
Arthur von Ramberg 1819-1875 1860-1866
Carl Hummel 1821-1906 Landscape painting 1860–?
Franz von Lenbach 1836-1904 1860–?
Johann Wilhelm Cordes 1824-1869 1860-1869
Reinhold Begas 1831-1911 1861-1863
Ferdinand Pauwels 1830-1904 History painting 1862-1872
Bernhard Plockhorst 1825-1907 History and
portrait painting, graphics
Paul Thumann 1834-1908 Genre painting 1866–? previously a student of
F. Pauwels
Max Schmidt 1818-1901 1868-1872
Charles Verlat 1824-1890 Animal painting 1869–?
Karl Gussow 1843-1907 1870
Theodor Hagen 1842-1919 Landscape painting 1871 1877-1881 turns
back to teaching in 1881
Albert Baur 1835-1906 1872- (1876?)
Ferdinand Schauss 1832-1916 Portrait and
genre painting
Franz Gustav Arndt 1842-1905 Landscape painting 1876–? previously a student,
1879–1881 secretary at the art school
Willem Linnig the Younger 1842-1890 Genre and
history painting
1876-1882 previously a student
Alexander Struys 1852-1941 History painting 1877-1882
Albert Brendel 1827-1895 Animal painting 1875-1895 1882-1885
Max Thedy 1858-1924 1883-1910 later professor (1910–1920)
and director (1914 / 15–1919) of the art college
Leopold von Kalckreuth 1855-1928 1885-1890 previously a student,
son of Stanislaus Kalckreuth
Hermann Arnold 1846-1896 1885-1896 Secretary 1885 to 1889
Edgar Meyer 1853-1925 1886–?
Franz Bunke 1857-1939 Landscape painting 1886–? 1878-1882 1882–1884 master class with Th. Hagen
Carl Frithjof Smith 1859-1917 Portrait and
genre painting
1890-1904 Norwegian
Hans Olde 1855-1917 1902-1910 establishes the art school as a university
admission of women to study (applied arts)
Ludwig von Hofmann 1861-1945 1903-1907 Pioneer of the New Weimar
Sascha Schneider 1870-1927 Nude painting 1904-1908
Fritz Mackensen 1866-1953 Nature painting 1908-1914 1910-1914
Gari Melchers 1860-1932 1909-1914 American (German father)
Albin Egger-Lienz 1868-1926 1912-1913
Theodor Schindler 1870-1950 1913-1914 Representation for Gari Melchers

List of students at the Grand Ducal Saxon Art School in Weimar

Further students at the Weimar School of Painting

Paul Baum (1900): Willows by the stream .
Karl Buchholz (1868): Spring in Oberweimar - Alte Nationalgalerie , Berlin.
Ludwig von Gleichen-Rußwurm (1897): Castle garden in Bonnland.
Karl Gussow (1876): The Kitten, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
Otto von Kameke (1899): The Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen.
Otto Piltz (1870): The politicians.
Adolf Rettelbusch (around 1927): Grusonwerk-Krupp steel foundry, Magdeburg.

If you go through the list of enrolled students, you will notice that a number of students from other painting schools had continued their studies at the Weimar School. This shows that the reputation of this art school even went beyond the national borders. The following are particularly well-known:

Important representatives of the Weimar School of Painting

Artists who attended the Weimar painters' college or college after 1900


  • Horst duration: The Weimar School of Painting. Seemann-Verlag, Leipzig 1983, OCLC 31766817 .
  • Frank Whitford: Bauhaus (World of Art). Thames and Hudson, London 1984, ISBN 0-500-20193-5 .
  • Walther Scheidig: The Weimar School of Painting. Seemann-Verlag, Leipzig 1991, ISBN 3-363-00538-5 .
  • Ulf Häder: The fountain of youth for painting, Holland and German art 1850–1900. Jena 1999, ISBN 3-931743-25-X , pp. 168-171 and 286.
  • Eckart Kissling, Hendrik Ziegler: Karl Buchholz, 1849–1889: An artist from the Weimar School of Painting. Seemann-Verlag, Leipzig 2000, ISBN 3-363-00733-7 .
  • Hendrik Ziegler: The art of the Weimar School of Painting. From plein air painting to impressionism. Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2001, ISBN 3-412-15400-8 ( digitized version ).
  • Renate Müller-Krumbach, Karl Schawelka, Norbert Korrek, Gerwin Zohlen: The animation of matter through form. Van de Velde's university building in Weimar. Verlag der Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Weimar 2002, ISBN 3-86068-166-4 .
  • Bernd Müllerschön, Thomas Maier: The painters of the Barbizon school - pioneers of impressionism. Ed. Thombe, 2002, ISBN 3-935252-01-3 .
  • Silke Opitz (Ed.): Van de Velde's art school buildings in Weimar. Architecture and equipment. Verlag der Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Weimar 2004, ISBN 3-86068-201-6 .
  • Sabine Schlenker: With the talent of the eyes. The art critic Emil Heilbut (1861–1921) A champion for modern art in the German Empire. VDG-Verlag, Weimar 2007, ISBN 978-3-89739-563-3 .
  • Jutta Hülsewig-Johnen, Thomas Kellein: The German Impressionism . DuMont-Buchverlag, Cologne 2009, ISBN 978-3-8321-9274-7 .
  • Michael Eckhardt (Ed.): Bauhaus Walk. On the trail of the early Bauhaus in Weimar. Verlag der Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Weimar 2009, ISBN 978-3-86068-378-1 .
  • Jens Plaul: Max Oehler: In the footsteps of a landscape painter who succeeded the Weimar School of Painting. 2nd Edition. Urban history working group Blankenhain 2009, ISBN 978-3-00-004335-2 .
  • Gerda Wendemann among others: Out into nature: Barbizon, the Weimar School of Painting and the dawn of impressionism . Christoph Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld 2010, ISBN 978-3-86678-381-2 .
  • Frank Simon-Ritz, Klaus-Jürgen Winkler, Gerd Zimmermann (eds.): But we are! We want! And we can do it! From the Grand Ducal Art School to the Bauhaus University. Verlag der Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Weimar 2010, ISBN 978-3-86068-419-1 .
  • Ekkehard Mai : The German art academies in the 19th century, artist training between tradition and avant-garde. Böhlau Verlag, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2010, ISBN 978-3-412-20498-3 .
  • Rowena Fuß: Christian Rohlfs in Weimar: The early work: 1870–1901 (pioneer without a model). VDG-Verlag, Weimar 2013, ISBN 978-3-89739-791-0 .
  • Peter Merseburger: Weimar Myth: Between Spirit and Power. Pantheon Verlag, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-570-55208-7 .
  • Peter Stapf: The painter Max Thedy 1858-1924. Böhlau Verlag, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2014, ISBN 978-3-412-22264-2 .
  • Marion Deshmukh: Max Liebermann Modern Art and Modern Germany. Ashgate, Farnham 2015, ISBN 978-1-4724-3415-9 .
  • Dieter Mück : Artists in Weimar's Art School 1860-1919: In the context of the cultural policy of the Weimar Princely House from Anna Amalia to Wilhelm Ernst 1756-1918. Weimarer Verlagsgesellschaft, Weimar 2018, ISBN 978-3-7374-0265-1 .

Web links

Commons : Art School Building Weimar  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. The founder and patron Grand Duke Carl Alexander von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach died on January 5th, 1901. Because this art school was inevitably linked to his work and name, the end of the Weimar School was set on December 31st, 1900, in terms of art history linked to his direct demise.
  2. The Barbizon School was named after its founders, École de 1830, named after the date of the revolution. It was not renamed until the nineties of the 19th century to the name we are familiar with today.
  3. In 1892 the Munich Secession was founded in Germany and was the beginning of the break with tradition. It was to be followed by numerous movements in the most important art centers in Germany.
  4. The student was called a pupil at the art school and his teacher was called a master.
  5. For further information, please refer to Peter Stapf, p. 83.
  6. This list was initially smaller and has been expanded continuously over the years. However, it could happen that certain subjects were not offered because the position was not filled. This was due to the fact that the sovereign only offered the respective teacher a temporary contract and only later did it come to lifelong employment.
  7. Reference is made to Bojanowski, Kunstschule, p. 10.
  8. He was only the director of this painting school and gave no lessons.
  9. The Grand Duke was a supporter of the ancient painting tradition of history painting and neoclassicism.
  10. Theodor Hagen (1819–1906) came from the Düsseldorf School of Painting and was a master student of Oswald Achenbach . He had turned down an appointment to Karlsruhe and accepted that to Weimar.
  11. See also Peter Stapf, p. 81, Der Maler Max Thedy.
  12. In addition, reference is made to Ekkehard Kai, p. 310.
  13. Emil Heilbutt (1861–1921) was an art collector, art critic and one year later published the same lecture in writing in a newspaper. For further information, please refer to Peter Stapf, p. 107.
  14. In France the names Claude Monet , Edgar Degas and Auguste Renoir are considered to be essential for the international movement of Impressionism as an art movement.
  15. For further information, please refer to Peter Stapf, p. 124.
  16. ^ Franz Hoffmann von Fallersleben first studied at the Düsseldorf School of Painting and then switched to the Weimar School of Painting and became one of its most famous representatives. He mainly devoted himself to landscape painting, including the coastal area.
  17. Franz Emil Goepfart was primarily a portrait painter and later a teacher at the Weimar School of Painting.