Theodor Hildebrandt, “Düsseldorf Freundschaftsbild (Düsseldorf Friendship)”, c1823, Oil on Canvas, 53 x 34.5 cm
Born in September of 1804 in Stettin, Germany, Theodor Hildebrandt was an entomologist and an artist of the Düsseldorf school of painting. He studied under German Romantic painter Friedrich Schadow at the prestigious Berlin Academy of the Arts. In 1828, upon Schadow’s appointment to the new Düsseldorf Academy of the Arts, Hildebrandt decided to relocate, following his teacher to Düsseldorf.
Hildebrandt began his artistic career by painting illustrative themes from the works of Shakespeare and Goethe. His “Faust and Mephistopheles” was painted in 1824, followed the next year by his work “Faust and Margaret”. In 1828, Hildebrandt painted a Shakespearean scene featuring King Lear and his youngest daughter Cordelia in the work entitled “Lear and Cordelia”.
Beginning in 1829, Hildebrandt traveled outside of Germany, initially with Schadow in the Netherlands and later, in 1930, alone in Italy. After his return to Düsseldorf, he painted several works in alternating styles: the more realistic style of the 1829 “The Robber”; the Shakespearean scene of the 1830 “Romeo and Juliet”; in the same year, “Tancred and Clorinda” a scene from Torquato Tasso’s poem “Jerusalem Delivered”; and in 1832 “The Captain and His Infant Son”, an affected realistic work that captivated the public.
Theodor Hildebrandt’s most famous work is the 1836 “The Murder of the Sons of King Edward IV, King of England”. In this canvas, Hildebrandt shows the men’s hesitation, given the innocence of the sleeping boys, and highlights the frozen action in the midst of the dramatic plot. The painting was considered realistic in tone and regarded by contemporary reviewers to be the crowning achievement of the Düsseldorf School of Painting. This painting currently resides in the Spiegel Collection at Halberstadt.
After 1847, Hildebrandt concentrated on portrait paintings, a genre that succeeded in supplying a large number of commissions. He continued through the rest of his life painting and, as a member of the Entomological Society of Stettin, studying the order of insects known as Coleoptera, the group containing beetles. Theodor Hildebrandt died in Düsseldorf in 1874
Bottom Insert Image: Theodor Hildebrandt, “The Robber”, 1829, Oil on Canvas, 114 x 99 cm, National Gallery, Berlin, Germany