Franz Liszt improvising on the piano

Josef Danhauser is the son of a furniture factory owner

Josef Danhauser. Almosen spendet eine Dame dem Bettler und seinem Sohn
Almosen spendet eine Dame dem Bettler und seinem Sohn

Josef Danhauser is the son of a furniture factory owner and has a brilliant career as a fashionable Austrian artist

Josef Danhauser (18 August 1805 4 May 1845) is a famous Austrian artist of the 19th century, a prominent representative of the Biedermeier style in the visual arts. Joseph Danhauser was a talented portrait painter, a master of historical and everyday life, and his paintings are distinguished by an acute social orientation and carefully selected colors. The best masterpieces of the painter’s work today are kept in museums in Austria and Germany, and his biography is full of interesting events.

Josef Danhauser was also a skilled interior designer and has achieved significant success in this field. In addition to painting, he developed original pieces of furniture, which were in great demand among the petty bourgeois in Austria and Germany.

Family resting at sunset
Family resting at sunset


Joseph Danhauser was born on August 18, 1805 in Vienna into the family of the owner of a small factory for the production of furniture and decor. His father was also a talented sculptor, but at a young age he decided to quit his career as an artist and devoted his life to entrepreneurial activity. The Danhauser family had three sons, of whom only the eldest, Josef, was fond of art from childhood.

Fortunately, the father did not interfere with the development of the boy’s creative abilities. On the contrary, he became his first mentor and taught the basics of drawing and composition. And in 1820, Joseph Danhauser was already enrolled in the Vienna Academy of Arts, in the class of Johann Peter Krafft. Under the guidance of an experienced mentor, the young artist graduated from a prestigious educational institution 6 years later, and at the same time the first personal exhibition of his paintings took place.

Franz Liszt improvising on the piano
Franz Liszt improvising on the piano

After a successful public presentation of his works, Joseph Danhauser received an invitation from the Patriarch of Venice, Johann Ladislaus Pyrker, to visit the famous Italian city. The artist willingly took advantage of this opportunity and went to Italy, where he studied the work of the great masters of painting for a year.

Returning from Venice to Austria, the young painter first settled in his native Vienna, and then lived with his father in Prague for several months, who insistently urged his son to start the family furniture business. But in 1828, Pirker, who had just been appointed Archbishop of Eger, invited Joseph to write a cycle of paintings for local churches, and the artist went to Hungary.

Joseph Danhauser. Funny scene in the artist's studio, 1829
Funny scene in the artist’s studio, 1829

Unfortunately, a year later, Danhauser Sr. suddenly died.

Josef was forced to return to Vienna to take care of the affairs of a furniture factory, which was on the verge of bankruptcy. The next three years were very difficult: in order to solve the problems accumulated in business, the artist had to completely abandon painting. But at this time, Danhauser’s talent as a designer manifested itself and he developed an original line of models of chairs and tables in the Biedermeier style.

Only in 1832, Joseph Danhauser was finally able to leave the family business in the care of his younger brothers and return to painting. He again left for Eger, where no one prevented him from painting and the next 4 years were very fruitful in his career. Soon the master became interested in the genre, in which he created his best works.

Joseph Danhauser. Portrait of Anna von Hell, 1833
Joseph Danhauser. Portrait of Anna von Hell, 1833

The year 1838 was marked for the artist by two important events. At first he received an invitation to take a well-paid position as proofreader at the Vienna Academy of Arts and, after some hesitation, accepted it. Then the master married Josefina Streit, for whom he had long had warm feelings. In a happy marriage, he had three children two daughters and a son, but the painter’s family life was very short.

Joseph Danhauser. Scholar's Room, 1828
Scholar’s Room, 1828
In 1841, Joseph Danhauser became professor at the Vienna Academy of Arts

But he soon retired to travel to Europe. Over the next two years, he visited many cities in Germany and the Netherlands, where he enthusiastically studied the works of local masters and painted with great pleasure.

By that time, a typhoid epidemic was already raging in Europe, which killed tens of thousands of people in different countries. In 1844, the artist’s younger brother Franz fell ill with a terrible illness, but he miraculously managed to recover after staying for several months on the verge of life and death. Six months later, Joseph Danhauser himself became infected with typhus, and on May 4, 1845, he died of exhaustion, at that time the talented master was only 39 years old.

Joseph Danhauser. The Artist Falling asleep in the Studio, 1830
The Artist Falling asleep in the Studio, 1830
The most famous paintings by Joseph Danhauser

During his short creative career, the Austrian painter managed to create many wonderful masterpieces. And yet, the most famous paintings by Joseph Danhauser are rightfully considered:

  • “Funny Scene in the Artist’s Studio” (1829) is a work with a pronounced humorous plot. In it, the author depicted the moment of a sudden meeting between a dog and a cat in the studio and its “sad” consequences for the owner of the premises.
  • The Expulsion of Hagar (1836) is a painting for which the painter was awarded the Academy of Arts Prize. This work is one of the few works of the religious genre in the master’s creative heritage.
  • “Mother’s Love” (1839) is a touching picture that clearly reflects the tender feelings of a young woman for her child. The author skillfully managed to convey to the audience the beauty and incredible depth of maternal love, which knows no boundaries.
  • Franz Liszt Fantasizing Playing the Piano (1840) is an original painting commissioned by the famous grand piano manufacturer Conrad Graf. The artist gave free rein to his imagination and depicted Liszt on canvas, surrounded by real historical figures of art, enthusiastically listening to music.

Josef Danhauser made a great contribution to the development of the fine arts of his native Austria. Despite numerous difficulties, he managed to realize his childhood dream and became an artist, draftsman and furniture designer famous throughout Europe.

Liszt plays the piano
Liszt plays the piano
Napoleon and Josephine with a fortune teller on cards
Napoleon and Josephine with a fortune teller on cards
The Sleeping Artist
The Sleeping Artist