Eliza Krusboger, Friedrich von Amerling

Friedrich von Amerling is a brilliant portrait painter

Friedrich von Amerling Portrait of the Austrian Emperor Franz II in ceremonial attire
Portrait of the Austrian Emperor Franz II in ceremonial attire

Friedrich von Amerling is a brilliant portrait painter and passionate art collector

Friedrich von Amerling was an extremely prolific artist, having painted over 1000 paintings during his career, most of which are now kept in museums in Austria and Germany. The master’s work was highly appreciated by his contemporaries; he was rightfully considered the best portrait painter of the Austro-Hungarian Empire during his lifetime. In the biography of the master of painting, there are many interesting facts that deserve attention. Friedrich von Amerling was not only a successful and fashionable artist, but also an avid collector. Throughout his life, he collected unique works of art, which decorated the interior of his own palace, built in the XII century.

Eliza Krusboger, Friedrich von Amerling
Eliza Krusboger


Friedrich von Amerling was born in 1803 in Vienna in the family of a master jeweler. The parents of the future artist lived modestly, but having discovered their son’s ability to draw from an early age, they sent him to study at the Academy of Arts in 1815. There was constantly not enough money to pay for education, so Frederick, in parallel with his studies, was forced to look for sources of additional income.

Friedrich von Amerling. A native of the East
A native of the East

For several years he worked as an apprentice with an engraver, and also taught guitar lessons, combining work with training at the Academy. His first painting mentors were Hubert Maurer and Carl Gselhofer. In 1824, Frederick went to Prague, where his uncle Heinrich lived. There he continued his studies at the local art academy under Joseph Bergler der Jüngere and earned a small amount of money to travel to England.

In 1827, Amerling traveled to London to continue his studies with the famous portrait painter Thomas Lawrence. But the most popular painter of England was loaded with orders for painting portraits of influential people and did not recruit students. Amerling had to do odd jobs for over a year to be able to visit London museums and exhibitions.

Friedrich von Amerling. Immersed in dreams (In Traumen Versunken)
Immersed in dreams (In Traumen Versunken)

And yet, Lawrence’s work later had a huge impact on the artistic style of Frederick.

Amerling made his last attempt to complete his studies abroad in 1828, when he visited Paris and got a job in the workshop of Horace Vernet. But in the capital of France, the young artist fell seriously ill and almost died of pneumonia. Barely recovering from a fatal illness, Frederick decided not to tempt fate anymore and went home to Austria.

In Vienna, the artist first of all reinstated himself as a student at the Academy of Arts in order to get the opportunity to take part in a prestigious competition of works. A year later, he won the first prize for two historical paintings “Moses in the Desert” and “Dido at the Fire” works that are now considered lost. From that time on, he began to quickly gain popularity in the Austrian capital and began to paint ceremonial portraits of nobles, including members of the imperial family.

Friedrich von Amerling. Joseph von Amerling - Young Fisherman, 1830
Joseph von Amerling – Young Fisherman, 1830

In August 1831, Frederick traveled to Italy to get acquainted with the masterpieces of the greatest masters of the Renaissance. He visited Venice, Florence and Rome, but suddenly from Vienna he received a personal invitation from Emperor Franz II. The Austrian monarch saw several of the master’s works and invited him to paint his ceremonial portrait.

Amerling could not refuse the high honor granted and immediately returned to his homeland. In the same year, he painted the famous portrait of one of the most influential European monarchs, which was enthusiastically received both by the emperor himself and by the Austrian public.

Mother and Children 1845
Mother and Children 1845
From that moment until his death, Friedrich von Amerling was on the crest of fame.

Wealthy customers lined up to him for portraits and paid substantial money for the work. Fortunately, the artist was distinguished by the incredible speed of painting and could complete any order in just a couple of days. Therefore, in a few years, Amerling amassed a decent fortune, bought an old palace in Vienna, made repairs in it and began to collect a collection of masterpieces of art.

Despite his immense popularity, Amerling always found time for his personal life. He was married four times, but never had children. Frederick’s first wife died after 11 years of their marriage. The second marriage lasted only a few months, after which it was terminated by mutual agreement. The painter lived with his third wife for 23 years, until her sudden death, and only the fourth wife survived Amerling.

Portrait of Rudolf von Arthaber and his children 1837
Portrait of Rudolf von Arthaber and his children 1837

His luxurious palace in Vienna was for many years the center of communication between local nobility and artists. For outstanding services, Frederick received the title of nobleman, knightly order and the prestigious prefix von to the Amerling family. In addition, the artist was very fond of traveling and, at the slightest opportunity, went on tourist trips to different countries. He traveled to Spain and Italy, England and the Netherlands, Germany and Greece, Sweden and Norway, as well as the Middle East.

Having lived an incredibly busy life, on January 14, 1887, Friedrich von Amerling died in his luxurious mansion at the age of 83.

Straw hat
Straw hat
The most famous paintings by Friedrich von Amerling

The ingenious Austrian left to descendants a huge number of magnificent masterpieces. And yet, the most famous paintings by Friedrich von Amerling are rightfully considered:

  1. Fisherman Boy (1830) is a charming portrayal of a young fishing enthusiast against the backdrop of nature. The little hero rests carelessly on the river bank and is not at all concerned with the presence of the spectator.
  2. “Portrait of Emperor Franz II” (1832) is a majestic image of a powerful European monarch in ceremonial attire. The already middle-aged emperor is still in his prime and with all his appearance inspires boundless respect in his subjects.
  3. The Girl in the Straw Hat (1835) is the most expensive of the artist’s paintings, sold at auction for 1.5 million euros in 2008. The beautiful young heroine is skillfully captured by the author in a moment of romantic meditation.
  4. Woman Reading (1835) is a tragic image of a young widow seeking comfort in reading. Her head is covered with a black veil, and her sad gaze is directed away from the viewer.
Virginia Aldoini Countess of Castiglione 1858
Virginia Aldoini Countess of Castiglione 1858

Friedrich von Amerling was the consummate Austrian master of portraiture. His beautiful paintings, painted in a recognizable elegant manner, are still admired by millions of viewers around the world.

Vogel von Vogelstein, Karl Christian
Vogel von Vogelstein, Karl Christian