DFG Research Project on the Painterly Techniques of the Nazarene Movement

In 1808, a group of artists came together in Vienna which included figures such as Franz Pforr, Friedrich Overbeck, Joseph Wintergerst and Ludwig Vogel. They were united by a shared interest in the epoch of the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance. In 1809, the group named itself the Brotherhood of St. Luke (Lukasbund). In 1810, the painters moved to Rome, where they lived in the monastery of San Isidoro, forming an intimate community, both on a personal and an artistic level. Here, they were joined by more artists, such as Peter von Cornelius and Julius Schnorr von Carollsfeld. By 1817, the group had come to be known by contemporaries as the Nazarene movement.

The focus of this research project is the early years of the young painters in Vienna and Rome. The central thesis of the investigation is the assumption that the group was fascinated not just by the motifs of the Old Masters whom they sought to emulate, but were also interested in the materials they used and their painterly techniques. The research outcomes thus provide a significant contribution to our understanding of 19th-century painterly techniques.

Numerous paintings from a total of eight museums are being analysed as part of the project. The methods of analysis include X-ray, UV and infra-red imaging, as well as analytical procedures to identify pigments and binding agents.

From the collection of the Alte Nationalgalerie, the following works are being analysed:

  • Friedrich Overbeck, Portrait of the Painter Franz Pforr, 1810/1865
  • Friedrich Overbeck, Portrait of the Painter Sutter, 1809/1812
  • Friedrich Overbeck, Saint Sebastian, 1813/1816
  • Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Portrait of Bianca Quandt, 1820

Dr Eva Reinkowski-Häfner is heading up the DFG-funded research project, which is affiliated with the Department for Romantic and Modern Art History at the Otto Friedrich-Universität Bamberg. One of the advantages of being based in Bamberg is the Kompetenzzentrum für Denkmalwissenschaften und Denkmaltechnologien (KDWT), which is supporting the research project with its material analyses.

Lead Researcher: Dr. Eva Reinkowski-Häfner, Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg
Project Researchers: Prof Wolfgang Brassat (Chair of Art History, with a focus on Romantic and Modern Art, Institute for Archaeology, Heritage Conservation and Art History at Universität Bamberg), Prof Rainer Drewello (Professor of Restoration Studies in Heritage Conservation and spokesperson for the Kompetenzzentrum für Denkmalwissenschaften und Denk-maltechnologien, Institute for Archaeology, Heritage Conservation and Art History at Universität Bamberg)
Cooperation Partners: Museum Behnhaus Drägerhaus in Lübeck, Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg, the Hamburger Kunsthalle, the Alte Nationalgalerie of the Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, the Städel Museum in Frankfurt a.M., the Neue Pinakothek and the Doernerinstitut in Munich, and Muzeum Narodowe w Poznaniu in Poznań, Poland
Project Duration: 2018 to 2021
Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)