Carl Von Marr (self portrait)
Marr was born in Milwaukee in 1858 and trained under the tutelage of Wisconsin’s
most noted artist of the time, Henry Vianden. In 1875, at the age of 17, Marr
left for study in Germany. The young artist first attended the Royal Academy
in Weimar. After finishing some classes, he transferred to the Royal Academy
in Berlin, and then to the Royal Academy of Art in Munich, where he entered
the painting class of Otto Seitz in October 1877. He later studied with Professors
Max and Lindenschmidt. His successful student career climaxed when he won the
sketch competition at the Academy in January 1880.
That spring he returned to Milwaukee, where he found that he could not make
a living as an artist. In the fall of 1881, he worked briefly for the publisher
of Harpers Magazine in Boston to earn passage back to Germany. In 1882 he was
back in Munich where he remained for the rest of his life, except for frequent
periodic visits to the United States for exhibitions, commissions and family
The Flagellants (1889)
Marr’s magnum opus was the huge painting The Flagellants painted in 1889. This
historical painting was a sensational success both in Germany and in this country,
being finally purchased and given to the City of Milwaukee; it is now on permanent
exhibit at this museum. It was for his paintings, teaching activities, curation
of several significant international exhibitions and his affiliation with European
art groups that Marr received great acclaim.
His painting styles included academic realism, impressionism, symbolism and
decorative arts. He was appointed professor of the Munich Academy in 1893,
and he taught most of the Americans who enrolled after that date, one of the
most notable being Adam Emory Albright. In 1919 he assumed the directorship
of the Academy, and served in other principal art organizations of that city.
Among many other official honors, Carl von Marr was raised to nobility in 1909
and was given royal status by three separate European royal houses. The largest
collection of the artist’s work is on permanent display at the Museum of Wisconsin Art.