Gerhardt Wilhelm von Reutern

Born: 1794, Gut Rösthof bei Walk (Livonia)
Died: 1865, Frankfurt-on-Main
Movements:
Biedermeier

Painter, draughtsman, engraver. Father-in-law of Vasily Zhukovsky. Born at the estate of Gut Rösthof in Livonia (now Restee in Estonia) to Saxon court chamberlain Christophor Hermann von Reutern and his wife Charlotte Wilhelmine von Fischbach (1794). Attended the school of the Lutheran Church of St Peter and St Paul in St Petersburg (1806–09), studied drawing under Carl Adolf Senff (1810) and military sciences at Dorpat University (1810). Joined the Empress Alexandra Hussars Regiment (1811) and fought in the Patriotic War (1812), losing his right arm at the Battle of Leipzig (1813). Took up drawing while recuperating with relatives at Schloss Willingshausen in Hesse (1814). Adjutant to Field Marshal Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly (1815). Met Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in Weimar (1814), Heidelberg (1815) and Jena (1817) and advised by the writer to take up art professionally (1818). Resigned from the Russian army with the rank of lieutenant-colonel and taught himself to paint with his left hand (1819). Visited Naples, Pompeii, Ancona, Bologna and Venice (1820). Married Charlotte von Schwertzell at Schloss Willingshausen (1820). Settled on his estate in Livonia (1820), where the harsh climate aggravated his war wound, forcing him to move to Geneva (1823). Returned to Schloss Willingshausen, where he founded the Willingshausen colony of artists with Ludwig Emil Grimm (1824). Visited Rome and Naples (1825) and the spa town of Bad Ems (1826), where he met Vasily Zhukovsky. Studied under Matthias Gabriel Lory in Berne, Ludwig Emil Grimm, Justus Wilhelm Karl Glinzer and Johann Martin von Rohden at the Kasseler Kunstakademie and Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow and Theodor Hildebrandt at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (1820s–30s). Visited Livonia and St Petersburg (1830–32). Travelled with Vasily Zhukovsky to Switzerland and Italy (1833–34), where he studied the works of the Nazarenes. Academician (1835). Appointed court painter with the right to live abroad through the intercession of Vasily Zhukovsky (1837), who married his daughter Elisabeth (1841) and had a daughter called Alexandra (1842), who later secretly married Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich (1868) and gave birth to his son Count Alexei Belevsky-Zhukovsky (1871). Settled in Frankfurt-on-Main (1844). Suffered the loss of his son-in-law Vasily Zhukovsky (1852), friend Joseph von Radowitz (1853), wife Charlotte (1854), daughter Elisabeth (1854) and youngest son Christophor (1859). Forced to abandon painting by failing eyesight and increasingly plagued by nervous complaints (1864), insomnia (1864) and rheumatism (1865). Died in Frankfurt-on-Main and buried at Friedhof Sachsenhausen (1865). Honoured by a posthumous centennial one-man show in St Petersburg (1894).

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