Friedrich Muller

Friedrich Muller (1749-1825), German poet, dramatist and painter, is best known for his slightly sentimental prose idylls on country life. Usually known as Maler (i.e. painter), Muller, was born at Kreuznach on the 13 January 1749. He studied painting at Zweibrücken, and in 1774-1775 settled in Mannheim, where in 1777 he was appointed court painter.

In 1778 he was enabled by a public subscription to visit Italy, which remained his home for the rest of his life. In 1780 he became a Roman Catholic. He was unfavourably influenced by the study of Italian models, and gradually gave up painting and devoted himself to the study of the history of art; his services as cicerone were especially in demand among German visitors to Rome.

Before he left Mannheim he had tried his hand at literature, under the influence of the Sturm und Drang movement. A lyric drama, Niobe (1778), attracted little attention; but Faust's Leben dramatisiert (Faust's Life Dramatized) (1778) appealed to the turbulent spirit of the time, and Gob und Genoveva (begun in 1776, but not published until 1801) was an excellent imitation of Goethe's Gotz von Berlichingen. He struck out a more independent path in his idylls, notably Die Schafschur, (1775) and Das Nusskernen (1811), in which, emancipating himself from the artificiality of Gessner, he reproduced scenes not without a touch of satire from the German peasant life of his day. He died at Rome on 23 April 1825.

Maler Muller's Werke appeared in 3 vols. (1811-1825); in 1868 H. Hettner published two volumes of Dichtungen von Maler Muller, which contain most of his writings. Gedichte von Maler Friedrich Muller; eine Nachlese zu dessen Werken appeared in 1873, and his Fausts Leben was reprinted by B. Seuffert in 1881.