1787 Vienna - 1868 Pisek/Bohemia
Being the son of a sculptor, Franz Steinfeld completed an apprenticeship with his father before enrolling in 1802 at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts to study under Lorenz Janscha. His frequent travels to destinations including Southern Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Holland - where he was particularly taken with the art of Dutch painter Salomon van Ruysdael - helped him further his artistic development. In 1823 he became a member of the Vienna Academy, assumed the post of corrector in 1837, that of artistic advisor in 1845 and shortly afterwards received a professorship. In 1850 he became head of the department for landscape painting. Steinfeld found an influential patron in Archduke Anton of Austria, who made him his court painter. Teacher to many important Austrian landscape artists, including Carl Vöscher, Ludwig Halauska, Josef Holzer, Eduard von Lichtenfels und August von Schaeffer, he was a revered role-model to his students. Austrian Biedermeier was mainly preoccupied with the depiction of nature and Steinfeld was among the first artists to go out into the world to try and capture nature on canvas. His studies of nature resulted in landscapes that were both accurately rendered and rich in atmosphere. While Steinfeld’s earlier works on nature clearly show a sense of awe and timidity he felt towards the Creation, whose greatness he sought to underline by emphasising nature’s heroic elements, he later abandoned this pathos in favour of an increasingly light, calm and idyllic atmosphere.
L. Hevesi, Österreichische Kunst im neunzehnten Jahrhundert, Leipzig 1903, S. 90ff; P. Pötscher, Franz Steinfeld und die Überwindung des Barock in der Wiener Landschaftsmalerei, Phil.Diss., Wien 1951; Lexica: Wurzbach, Thieme-Becker, Müller-Singer, Boetticher, Bénézit, Busse Nr. 76943