Heinrich Knirr

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Heinrich Knirr (c.1910/14)
Adolf Hitler's official portrait

Heinrich Knirr (2 September 1862 – 26 May 1944) was an Austrian-born German painter, known for genre scenes and portraits, although he also did landscapes and still-lifes. He is best-known for creating the official portrait of Adolf Hitler and is the only artist known to have painted Hitler from life.[1]


He was born in Pančevo. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, with Christian Griepenkerl and Carl Wurzinger [de], then attended the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, where he took lessons from Gabriel von Hackl and Ludwig Löfftz.[2]

He remained in Munich and opened a private art school there in 1888. Eventually, his school gained a good reputation throughout Europe. From 1898 to 1910, he also taught at the Munich Academy. He was also a member of the Munich Secession and, later, the Vienna Secession.[2]

At the beginning of World War I, he gave up his teaching activities and moved to Starnberg. In the 1920s, the Thannhauser family became his major patrons. After 1922, he lived in Upper Bavaria.[2] During the Nazi régime, he remained popular and, in 1937, was represented at the first "Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung [de] at the Haus der Kunst with one of his portraits of Adolf Hitler.[1]

Over the next few years, he exhibited fourteen works there altogether, including portraits of Hitler's private chauffeur, Julius Schreck, and his mother Klara. Both paintings were hung in Hitler's office at the Berghof in Berchtesgaden. He also did the official portrait of Rudolf Hess, and Albert Speer often referred to him as the "court painter".

In 1942, Knirr was awarded the Goethe-Medaille für Kunst und Wissenschaft. In 1944 he died in Staudach-Egerndach.

Notable students[edit]


External links[edit]

Media related to Heinrich Knirr at Wikimedia Commons