Friedrich von Amerling Biography

(Former Portrait Painter)

Birthday: April 14, 1803 (Aries)

Born In: Vienna, Austria

Friedrich von Amerling was an Austro-Hungarian portrait painter, known as one of the best portrait painters of the 19th century. Born into a financially stable family, Friedrich developed an interest in artistic pursuit when he was in his teen years. He studied art in Vienna and Prague. Known as one of the most popular portrait painters of the 19th century, Friedrich’s popularity soared within the first few years when he began his career. He was hired at the court of Austria where he made portraits of several nobilities and commoners. He worked at the court for about 15 years and kept travelling to different places to hone his skills as an artist. He also met a lot of painters and developed a unique style of using warm colours to portray the period in his portraits. Throughout his career, he made around 1,000 portraits and was best known for making portrait paintings of gorgeous young women. For his work, he was awarded several honours, while he was alive and working and after his demise. In 1878, he was raised to the Austrian nobility and was named Friedrich Ritter von Amerling.

Quick Facts

Died At Age: 83


Spouse/Ex-: Antonie Kaltenthaler, Emilie Heinrich, Katharina Heissler, Maria Nemetschke

father: Franz Amerling

mother: Theresia Kargl

Born Country: Austria

Artists Austrian Men

Died on: January 14, 1887

place of death: Vienna, Austria

City: Vienna, Austria

More Facts

education: Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Early Life

Friedrich von Amerling was born on April 14, 1803, in Spittelberg, Vienna, Austria. He was born to a father who worked as a goldsmith and a silversmith. Hailing from a rich family Friedrich spent a comfortable childhood. He eventually became inclined towards art.

However, making art was not always his life goal. He began a career illuminating maps and prints in Vienna before he became serious about a career in painting. He joined the Vienna Academy of the Arts in 1815 and studied there until 1824, under the guidance of Hubert Maurer.

When he finally discovered his calling, he decided to up his education and joined the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague in 1824. He studied art there for three years under the guidance of his teacher Josef Bergler.

In search of inspiration, Friedrich travelled through Europe, starting from London. He moved to the UK in 1827, one year after graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts and was further influenced by several masters of portrait making. Portraitists such as Joshua Reynolds and Sir Thomas Lawrence influenced him greatly to start his career on similar lines.

After spending a year or so in London, Friedrich continued with his travels and visited Paris. Paris was one of the centres of the European arts and there he was exposed to some the painters such as Horace Vernet. He also studied portrait art under Horace’s guidance.

After making one more trip, to Rome, he finally returned to Vienna in the late 1820s and began his own career as a portrait painter.

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One of the first major assignments he took was to draw the portrait of Francis 1 of Austria. In 1828, he began working at the Austrian Court, with the aristocrats and the middle class. He painted several portraits during this time and his reputation kept spreading far and wide.

Following the immense success of his artistic endeavours, he was also awarded the Reichel Prize of the Academy in Vienna. In his portraits of the Austrian high class, the distinct use of warm colours and a high level of precision was considered a masterstroke by art historians. Friedrich utilized his skills and deep knowledge of colours to exhibit the characteristics and self-image of the nobilities he painted portraits of. Thus, through his art, he gave the future generations an authentic peek into the society of the pre-March era.

However, he wanted to learn more and to further polish his skills. He left the Austrian court and travelled to the Netherlands in 1833. While returning, he spent some time in Munich and Dusseldorf where he was acquainted with Friedrich Wilhelm von Schadow, the academy director.

Friedrich’s fame spread far and wide around this time as he kept painting portraits on commissions, earning great word of mouth and wealth. However, upon returning, he kept working at the Austrian court in Vienna but also travelled a lot. He remained in the court for 15 years.

Throughout his career, he painted about 1,000 portraits. Most of his work was done in Vienna. But his influences could be seen in faraway European cities as well. In the early years of the 1840s, he visited Rome and met with painters such as Leopold Pollak and August Reidel. These two famous Italian portraitists were known for making gorgeous portraits of Italian women. They worked together with Friedrich, and it significantly enhanced Friedrich’s work as well.

Over time, Friedrich developed a new style of painting. While he was still painting simple portraits, he crossed over from the simple portraiture to a more romantic category. He depicted mostly the beautiful young women in that new form of art and some examples of it are still quite popular among the art-lovers.

Among his most popular paintings of beautiful young women are, Reading Girl, Julie Countess of Woyna, Chiaruccia, Amalie Klein and The Young Eastern Woman. Apart from his painting of Emperor Francis 1, some of his most popular portraits are Self Portrait, Anton Ritter von Schmerling, Portrait of an Elderly Man and Ender etc.

Friedrich was an avid traveller. Throughout his career as a portrait painter, he travelled to countries such as Italy, Germany, Spain, England, Egypt, Greece, Scandanavia and Palestine. As his work kept reaching far and wide, he began being regarded as one of the most popular portrait painters of not only Austria but the entire Europe.

Throughout his career, he received several honours, such as a Knighthood in 1879, known as Orden de Eisernen Krone. He also received several important men of letters and musicians being one of the most renowned artists in Austria.

Personal Life & Death

Friedrich von Amerling married four times. He first married Antonie Kaltenthaler in 1832. Following her death in 1843, he married Katharina Heissler. After a divorce from his second wife, Friedrich married two more times. His fourth and last wife was Maria Nemetschke, whom he married in 1881. He stayed married to her until her death.

By the late 1850s, Friedrich had become significantly rich. In 1858, he acquired the Gumpendorf Castle and equipped it with highly valuable art treasures.

After a long and illustrious career as a portrait painter, Friedrich passed away on January 14, 1887.


In 1948, 60 years after Friedrich von Amerling’s demise, the Austrian Post Office issued a special stamp.

Amerling’s entire work was exhibited in Vienna in 2003. Most of his work didn’t leave Austria and is still a major attraction across Museums, mostly in Vienna.

About a decade before his death, Friedrich was promoted to the Austrian nobility and was given the name Friedrich Ritter von Amerling.

See the events in life of Friedrich Von Amerling in Chronological Order

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