Portrait of an elegant Man
  • August Grahl
  • Proppentin / Mecklenburg 1791 - 1868 Dresden
  • Portrait of an elegant Man, circa 1831
  • Oil on paper,
  • inscribed and stamped on the verso
  • 179 × 131 mm
collection Arnold Blome, Bremen (1894-1972)
Peter Oertel, Bremen
Kunsthalle Bremen, 1938
(as inscribed on the verso)

Highly praised in his lifetime, the miniaturist and portrait-painter August Grahl has fallen into undeserved oblivion today. The scion of a respectable Berlin family, he studied at the academy of his native city beginning in 1811 and received his first official portrait commission from King Wilhelm III in 1816. After an initial period of study in Italy in 1817, Grahl settled in 1823 for eight years in Rome, where he shared living quarters in Palazzo Caffarelli with Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872). There, his abilities soon found international recognition, and the young artist obtained portrait commissions from, among others, Napoleon’s mother Laetitia and stepdaughter Hortense de Beauharnais as well as Queen Christine of Spain.

After his return to Berlin, he followed the English queen Adelaide to London in 1831, where he made masterful portraits of the queen and her court.

In Prussia, alongside the aristocracy, prominent cultural figures counted among his clientele, such as Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, and Karl Friedrich Zelter. He was particularly famous for his unique flesh tones, but Grahl took the secret of his colour formula with him to the grave.

In 1835, he settled with his family in Dresden. Grahl travelled to Italy one last time in 1853 in order to visit his ailing son-in-law, the painter Alfred Rethel (1816-1859).