Carl Joseph Begas

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Self-Portrait with Johann Peter Weyer (1813) Wallraf-Richartz Museum
Portrait of the Begas family

Carl Joseph Begas (September 30, 1794 – November 24, 1854), was a German historical painter born at Heinsberg near Aachen. His father, a retired judge, destined him for the legal profession, but the boy's tastes pointed definitely in another direction. Even at school he was remarked for his wonderful skill in drawing and painting, and in 1812 he was permitted to visit Paris in order to perfect himself in his art.

He studied for eighteen months in the atelier of Antoine Jean Gros then began to work independently. In 1814 his copy of The Madonna della Sedia was bought by the king of Prussia, who was attracted by the young artist and did much to advance him. He was engaged to paint several large Biblical pictures, and in 1825, after his return from Italy, continued to produce paintings which were placed in the churches of Berlin and Potsdam. Some of these were historical pieces, but the majority were representations of Scriptural incidents. Begas was also celebrated as a portrait-painter, and supplied to the royal gallery a long series of portraits of eminent Prussian men of letters. At his death he held the post of court painter at Berlin.

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