Fritz von Uhde
Uhde was born in Wolkenburg, Saxony. In 1866 he was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden. Totally at variance with the spirit prevailing there, later that year he left his studies for military service, and from 1867 to 1877 he was a professor of horsemanship to the regiment of the assembled guard. He moved to Munich in 1877 to attend the Academy of Fine Arts. In Munich, he particularly admired the Dutch old masters. Unsuccessful in his attempts to gain admittance to the studios of either Piloty or Diez, in 1879 he travelled to Paris where his studies of the Dutch painters continued under Mihály Munkácsy's supervision. He worked for a short time in that master's studio, but principally studied from nature and his old Netherland models. In 1882 a journey to Holland brought about a change in his style, as he abandoned the dark chiaroscuro he had learned in Munich in favor of a colorism informed by the works of the French Impressionists. The new coloristic principles which he adopted are apparent in the “Arrival of the Organ-Grinder” (1883).
His work was often rejected by the official art criticism, and by the public, because his representations of ordinary scenes were considered vulgar or ugly. The critic Otto Julius Bierbaum was more sympathetic; in 1893, he wrote, "As a painter of children, for example, Uhde is extraordinarily distinguished. He does not depict them as sweetly as used to be popular; in other words not as amusing or charming dolls, but with extreme, very strict naturalness."
In about 1890, Uhde became a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. He was, with Max Slevogt and Lovis Corinth, one of the leading figures in the Munich Secession, and later joined the Berlin Secession as well. Uhde became an honorary member of the academies of Munich, Dresden and Berlin. Progressing in his naturalistic conception, Uhde gave rise to a complete change in German art, counting among his followers most of the younger generation. He died in Munich in 1911.
Uhde's inclination was from the first directed towards religious subjects. He revived the practice of treating Biblical episodes realistically by transferring them to modern days. Thus in the Come, Lord Jesus, be our Guest, of the Berlin National Gallery, Christ appears among the peasant family assembled for their meal in a modern German farmhouse “parlour,” and in The Sermon on the Mount (Berlin, private collection) addresses a crowd of 19th-century harvesters. Similar in conception are Suffer Little Children to come unto Me (Leipzig Museum), The Holy Night (Dresden Gallery), The Last Supper, The Journey to Bethlehem (Munich Pinakothek), and The Miraculous Draught of Fishes. Other works of his in public collections are: Saying Grace, at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris; Christ at Emmaus, at the Staedel Institute, Frankfort; The Farewell of Tobias, at the Liechtenstein Gallery, Vienna; and a portrait of the actor Wohlmuth, at the Christiania Museum. Later works include Noli me tangere (1894, New Pinakothek, Munich), The Wise Men from the East (1896, Magdeburg Museum), The Last Supper (1897, Stuttgart Museum), Ascension (1898, New Pinakothek, Munich), and Woman, Why Weepest Thou? (1900, Vienna Museum).
- Forster-Hahn, Françoise, et al. (2001). Spirit of an Age: Nineteenth-Century Paintings From the Nationalgalerie, Berlin. London: National Gallery Company. ISBN 1-85709-981-8
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