German symbolist and Art Nouveau painter Franz von Stuck (sometimes simply “Franz Stuck”) began his career as an illustrator and cartoonist for popular magazines; but after winning a gold medal at his first painting exhibition, and experiencing subsequent critical success, he began to devote himself to painting, engraving and sculpture, as well as architecture.
Von Stuck studied at the Munich Academy, and later returned to take up his role as a professor, counting among his students noted modernist stars like Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Josef Albers.
Stuck was one of the founders of the Munich Secession, a group of like minded artists who withdrew from the official auspices of academic art and established styes outside the mainstream (the most widely recognized of these groups was the Vienna Secession, which included Gustav Klimpt).
Von Stuck was highly successful and critically well regarded in his time, though his fame and influence faded toward the end of his life. He is sometimes compared to Arnold Böcklin, by whom he was greatly influenced. The comparisons are often unfavorable, but Von Stuck went his own way and was responsible for wonderfully intense interpretations of mythological subjects and literary subjects, like his portrayal of Lucifer (above, third down).
He designed and constructed his own frames, which he considered an integral part of the work. He was a talented sculptor as well as a painter, at times applying both skill sets to works like his striking painted relief of Beethoven (above, bottom), based on a mask of the composer once thought to be a death mask, but later established as a mask made from Beethoven’s face during his lifetime. Von Stuck’s portrait evokes the kind of fiery intensity we associate with “Ludwig van’s” stirring work.