Painter, portrait painter, history painter, court painter, etcher, commercial artist, draughtsman, classical scholar and art collector
Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein was born in 1751 in the convent in Haina into the Hessian Tischbein family of painters. He first studied with his uncles, Johann Heinrich Tischbein the Elder in Kassel and Jacob Tischbein in Hamburg. In 1772 the young Tischbein undertook a study trip to Holland, and in 1777 he moved to Berlin, where he worked as a portrait painter. A stipend from the academy in Kassel made a first sojourn in Italy possible from 1779 to 1781. There he studied antiquity, as well as Raphael’s works and early Italian painting. He then lived in Zurich for a year. In 1783 he set out on a second trip to Italy, where he turned to history painting. In Rome in 1786 he became acquainted with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – Goethe even lived in his flat at first. The two spent the following months together in Rome and Naples. After countless studies, in 1787 Tischbein produced his famous portrait of Goethe in the Campagna. In 1789 Tischbein was named director of the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples, but in 1799 he left the city and settled in Hamburg. In 1808 he was appointed court painter in Eutin, Northern Germany, where he died in 1829.