Hans von Marees

German , 1837 - 1887

Hans von Marees was born in 1837 in Elberfeld, Germany. He exhibited an early talent for painting and at the age of 16, he was sent to the Berlin Academy where he received thorough training as a draftsman, but hardly any experience in painting.

Marees settled in Munich to work on his own in 1857. His subject matter consisted largely of country scenes, which he painted in a realistic manner. He completed a number of portraits during this time, including “Portrait of the Artist’s Father” in 1862, “Self-Portrait with Lenbach” in 1863 and “The Bath of Diana” in 1863. His portraits were unique for their richness and warmth of color.

Marees was rescued from financial crisis in 1864 by Baron Schack of Munich who purchased one of his pictures and sent him to Italy to study the old masters. From 1865, Marees lived in Rome where the impact of Renaissance art was overwhelming to him. He copied Raphael, Velazquez and Titian, believing that he must learn to paint all over again, as he felt his prior endeavors had all been worthless.

After parting with Baron Schack, Marees was rescued from financial strife once more by his friend Konrad Fiedler, who supported him from 1868. Marees and Fiedler traveled together to Spain, France and Holland. These travels provided another turning point in Maree’s career and brought more realism, color and composition to his work. He served in the Franco-Prussian war from 1870 to 1871, then lived, for a time, in Berlin and Dresden. He began portraying subjects from his memories of the Roman countryside and in 1873, when he returned to Italy, he decorated the walls of the Naples Zoological Institute with a series of frescoes of Neapolitan life. Marees settled in Florence in 1874 with a colleague from the Zoological Institute. He died in Rome at the age of 49 in 1887.

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