Otto Greiner

Otto Greiner, Study for the “Triumph of Venus”, 1909

Otto Greiner was born on the 16th of December, 1869 in Leipzig, Germany. He began his artistic career in 1884 as an apprentice lithographer and etcher in his hometown. In 1888 Greiner was awarded a bursary which enabled him to study from 1888 to 1891 at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich under illustrator and historical painter Sándor Liezen-Mayer.

At an exhibition in Munich, Greiner encountered the work of painter and sculptor Max Klinger, who was already a leading figure in the Symbolist movement. In the autumn of 1891, Greiner made his first journey to Rome, where he met Klinger, forming a close friendship, and the painter and printmaker Käthe Kollwitz, who became the first woman elected to the Prussian Academy of Arts and receive  professor status.  

Otto Greiner returned to Germany and worked in Munich and Leipzig between the years 1892 and 1898. He returned to Rome where he settled permanently in 1898, moving into Max Klinger’s former studio near the Colosseum. Greiner was in contact with and highly regarded by the community of German artists living and working in Rome. 

In 1915, Greiner was forced to return to Germany because Italy sided with France and England in World War I. He settled in Munich, where many of his works were published in journals of the day. Otto Greiner died in Munich, after contracting pneumonia, on September 24th of 1916. 

A talented draughtsman, printmaker, and painter, Otto Greiner also produced a large body of studies, working in ink, charcoal, red chalk, gouache, and colored crayon. These studies show the precision of his working methods, and his confident handling of materials and techniques.In his finished paintings, Greiner specialized in the depiction of nudes, often placed in complex poses and set in Italianate landscapes, for which mythological subjects provided an excellent opportunity. He also painted portraits and produced an impressive oeuvre of prints. 

Note: Otto Greiner made several studies for the “Triumph of Venus”, his unfinished work that was destroyed in World War II. Three, which are known to exist, are: an oil on canvas study for the figure of Venus, c 1903, 120 x 79.5 cm, now residing in a private collection; the study of three male figures (shown above), 1909, location unknown ; and a preliminary sketch of the entire  work, date and location of this sketch is unknown.

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