ANTON GRAFF (Winterthur 1736 – 1813 Dresden)
The foremost society painter of late eighteenth-century Dresden, Anton Graff trained first under Johann Ulrich Schellenburg (1709-1795) in Winterthur and subsequently with Johann Jakob Haid in Augsburg between 1756 and 1765. After working for the court painter Leonhard Schneider (1716 – 1762) in Ansbach from 1757 to 1759, and then as a miniaturist in Regensburg (1764 – 1765), he was appointed court painter to the Elector Friedrich-Christian in Dresden in 1766. Although Dresden was to be his base, Graff made frequent trips to Leipzig and Berlin, where he taught at the Hochschule der Bildende Künsten. He worked principally as a portraitist: he painted the aristocracy of Saxony and Prussia and newly enriched professional classes of Dresden, Berlin and Leipzig, and, as such, his work forms an invaluable pictorial record of these groups. Graff also played an important role in the early Romantic movement in Dresden: not only did he paint portraits of the main poets of the time, but his pure landscapes of c. 1800 were to influence both Philipp Otto Runge and Caspar David Friedrich.
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