this bio is translated from a German Lexicon of Artists
August Grahl, miniature painter, born May 26, 1791
in Proppentin - Mecklenburg. Son of the Berliner Hofjuweliers Johann Christian
Gottlieb Grahl - died 1868 in Dresden.
Studied since 1811 in the Berlin Academy. In 1813, he joined
the "Black Husar" under Lutzow in the war, from which he returned as
a Officer, and in 1816 got the order to paint a portrait of Frederich Wilhem,
III. (after Gerard) on a public building in the province.
In 1817/18, he went the first time to Italy (Rome, Florence,
Milan) and on his return trip, to Munich. In 1819, he married in Potzdam (Berlin),
but returned in 1821 after the death of his wife to traveling. First he went to
Vienna, where he probably stayed during 1823. From there he went to Venice, Bologna,
Florence, and Rome, where he stayed until 1830 with Schmorr in the Palazzo Caffarelli
with v. Bunsen.
Rome was his most important time in his career. (Thornwaldsen,
Picture - Dresden Gal.) He also met his second wife there. She was the daughter
of a rich Konigsberger Banker.
In 1830, he went via Gastein back to Germany and returned
in the fall of 1830 to Berlin. He spent 1831 in England and painted the picture
of Queen Adelaide in Windsor. (1832 from Reynolds gestochen) He also did many
portraits of her staff.
In February of 1832, he married his second wife in Konigsberger
and moved to Berlin. In 1835 he moved to Dresden. From February 1853 until the
end of 1853, he stayed in Rome with his sick son-in-law, the painter Alfred Rethel,
who had married his daughter, Married in 1850. His son, Otto August Grahl, (born
December 29, 1839 in Dresden) studied from 1862-1864 in the Dresden-Bauschule,
died November 18, 1875 in Rome. One other daughter, married in 1858 to Hermann
One of the very important miniature painters of the 19th century,
Grahl was all but forgotten until, in our time, Ernst Lemberger discovered him
again. Grahl's time as a miniature painter was only 20 years, and since most of
his work was kept within the family, it was rarely found in public places. Lemberger
found that there are three different groups of Grahl's miniature works:
1. Originals - which were kept by those which they were painted
2. Replicas - which Grahl kept himself
3. Sketches - which often showed only the head
Grahl's work was influenced by the Vienna School, but he used
a special mixture of colors, which made his pictures very strong and fresh, but
also very fragile looking. His best portraits are in Oil and Ivory, which he used
sparingly to make the flesh look real.
Since his time in England, he worked this way because
it was the style for ivory plates. For the edges he would use wood and cardboard
(format up to 40 X 40 cm). He did not like the effect of transparency and his work
was right in front of the plates.
The real value of his art was only seen in his completed work.
They were never real popular because of his special color theory and practical
recipe and therefore he had no students to teach and took his secret to the grave.