HERMANN REICHSFREIHERR VON KÖNIGSBRUNN (1823-1907)
“Mönche unter einem Bodhi Baum” (Monks under a sacred bodhi tree)
Signed and dated Düsseldorf 1856 lower left
Oil on canvas, 76.5 x 101 cm
Hermann von Königsbrunn was from an Austrian aristocratic family. He studied law in Graz and Vienna but as he joined the Revolutionary Movement that ousted Metternich in Vienna in 1848, he had to flee the country after the revolution had been suppressed. He fled to Munich and there and then decided to become a painter. Already in Graz, against the will of his family, he had taken private drawing lessons from Josef Kuwasseg. In Munich, he studied under Leopold Rottman but when the reaction to the revolution of 1848 reached Munich, Königsbrunn as a former revolutionary was forced to leave the city. He went back to Austria, to Salzburg but after a personal conflict with the local governor had to leave there as well and went back to Graz. There he was asked in 1852 by Ritters von Friedau and the zoologist L.K.Schmarda to join them as a draughtsman on a journey to Ceylon.
He stayed there for 10 months making numerous sketches of the landscapes and flora of Ceylon for a travel book Friedau intended to write. The book was never published but Friedau helped Königsbrunn financially to continue his studies in painting in Düsseldorf. Several of the large landscape paintings of Ceylon von Königsbrunn made in Germany after his sketches were bought by Friedau and kept in the Friedau castle in Austria. Also, his son Max Freiherr von Königsbrunn kept a number of his fathers works in the family. His former teacher Kuwasseg made beautiful watercolours after Königsbrunn’s sketches of vegetation of Ceylon which are now in the Botanical Museum in Vienna. Invited by the botanist Franz Unger to make drawings for his travel book, Königsbrunn spent two months on Corfu in 1863. The large painting “View from Gasturi” he made there was bought by Emperor Franz Josef who had a large villa, now a museum, on Corfu. From 1868 till 1892 he was a very popular professor of drawing in the Art School of Steiermark in Austria.