Joseph von Fürich is an Austrian artist, for whom the Christian religion has been a source of inspiration in his work all his life.
Joseph von Fürich (February 9, 1800 – March 13, 1876) was a famous Austrian painter of the 19th century, an outstanding master of the religious genre.He became famous for painting oil paintings on biblical themes, as well as creating frescoes for cathedrals and churches. The best masterpieces of the master’s work are now kept in museums in Austria, and his biography is closely connected with Vienna, where he lived most of his life. Joseph von Fürich was also a skilled book illustrator and draftsman.
Josef Fürich was born on February 9, 1800 in the small town of Khrastava, located in the north of modern Czech Republic, in a large family. His father worked all his life as a decorator, he painted the walls of churches with images of saints, made signs for local taverns and festive decorations. From early childhood, Josef was very fond of drawing and willingly spent time in his father’s workshop. It was here that he learned the basics of painting, after which he expressed his desire to continue his studies to become a professional artist.
In 1816, Fürich entered the Prague Academy of Arts in the class of Professor Josef Bergler, and three years later his paintings were presented to the general public for the first time at an exhibition. The works of the young master made a great impression on the well-known philanthropist Christian Christoph Clam-Gallas, who began to pay a scholarship to Fürich from his own funds.
Even while studying at the academy, Josef began painting the interior decoration of churches, as well as creating illustrations for books by German poets and writers. Fürich was rightfully considered one of the best students of the academy, even then, being a deeply religious person, he decided to devote his life to the religious genre.
During a study trip to Vienna in the mid-1820s, Josef acquired another influential patron, which was Count Klemens von Metternich, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Austrian Empire. Metternich ordered to allocate funds for the trip of his protégé to Rome to continue his studies, and in 1829 Joseph went to the capital of Italy.
Here he met Johann Friedrich Overbeck and joined the creative union of the Nazarenes. During his stay in Rome, Fürich created several frescoes for the Villa Massimo and was finally convinced of the correctness of the choice of the main genre of his work.
Returning from Italy to Prague in 1831, the artist married Franziska Gassner, with whom he was happily married all his life. Josef painted pictures with enthusiasm and very soon became a very popular author, receiving orders from different cities of Europe.
In 1834, at the invitation of Count Metternich, the painter moved to permanent residence in Vienna, where he was offered the position of curator of the personal art gallery of an influential dignitary. At the same time, through the efforts of the patron, the department of historical composition was created at the Vienna Academy of Arts, headed by Fürich. The heyday of the creative career of the brilliant master began, which lasted almost forty years. Together with his students, he created fresco paintings for churches, which brought the artist wide European fame, and in the workshop he painted pictures with scenes from the Bible.
The calm life of the painter was suddenly interrupted by the revolution of 1848, which forced Fürich to leave Vienna.
The artist and his family went to the Czech Republic, where he spent about three years, and then returned to the Austrian capital. After that, the master never left the city he loved. Here he was engaged in teaching and art until the early 1870s. And upon reaching the age of 60, Fürich was awarded the title of nobility for outstanding services to national art, after which the noble prefix “background” appeared in front of his surname.
The last major project of the artist was the development, on the personal instructions of the emperor, of sketches for stained glass windows of the national Catholic symbol of Austria – St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. The master brilliantly coped with the difficult task and in 1872 submitted a request for resignation from the post of professor at the academy for health reasons.
The emperor granted the artist’s request and he devoted the rest of his life to his relatives, completely abandoning creativity. Shortly before his death, the city authorities awarded him the title of honorary citizen of Vienna, and on March 13, 1876, Joseph von Fürich died in his Viennese mansion at the age of 76.