Grimm Family

Ludwig Emil Grimm, the youngest brother of the famous collectors of fairy tales and philologists of European language and literature Jacob (1785–1863) and Wilhelm (1786–1859) Grimm, was the fifth son of the laywer and judge Philipp Wilhelm Grimm (1751–1796), working in Hanau und Steinau (Southern Hesse), and his wife Dorothea Zimmer (1755–1805), the dauther of an administrative officer in Kassel (Northern Hesse). He is of interest as an painter, but even more as a graphic artist, and contributed with about 30 paintings, but more than 3000 drawings and etchings a lot to German art in the first half of the 19th century.
Ludwig Emil Grimm was born in 1790 in the city of Hanau on the river Main, at that time the second residence of the landgraves of Hesse („Landgrafen v. Hessen“) and located near the free and independent German city („Freie Deutsche Reichsstadt“) of Frankfurt on the river Main. He spent his early years of childhood and youth in the small town of Steinau „an der Straße“, located „on the commercial road“ between Frankfurt and Leipzig, where his father was appointed „Amtmann“, that is the head of the adminstration and the legislation of this district. His artistic talent was noted soon, when he began, already as a pupil, to draw plants, animals and landscapes.

After the early death of their father (1796) his elder brothers Jacob and Wilhelm were send in 1798 to Kassel, at that time the capital and main residence of Hesse, to attend there the higher school of the „Lyceum Fridericianum“. Ludwig Emil followed them in 1803 and could there complete his education. Two years later in 1805 he could begin with his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kassel.

In 1808 he stayed in Heidelberg (Kurpfalz) and in Landshut (Bavaria). Here he came in contact with the outstanding poets and writers of German Romanticism, namely with Ludwig Achim v. Arnim (1781–1831), Clemens Brentano (1778–1842) and Joseph Görres (1776–1848). Special support and promotion he received from Friedrich Karl v. Savigny (1779–1861), the former teacher of his elder brothers at the Hessian University of Marburg. Already in this period he created illustrations for the collection of folk poems and songs edited in Heidelberg by Arnim and Brentano under the title „The Boy‘s Magic Horn“ („Des Knaben Wunderhorn“), and drew portraits of his contemporaries. In 1808 then he went to Munich, the capital of Bavaria, where he continued to train drawing and etching at the Academy of Fine Arts. The well known graphic master Karl Ernst Christoph Hess (1755–1828) was of great influence upon him, and soon he recorded successes with his artistic works.

In 1814 Ludwig Emil Grimm took part in the campaign against Napoleon – together with his elder brother Carl Grimm (1787–1852) and his future brother in law (who married later in 1822 his sister Charlotte Amalie (named „Lotte“; 1793–1833)) Ludwig Hassenpflug (1794–1862) – and fought in the wars of liberation in the rank of a Hessian horseback hunter („Hessische Reitende Jäger“) in the region of Lorraine and Luxemburg.

Really important in the life of the artist was his journey to Italy in summer 1816. During three months he studied not only the masterpieces of Roman antiquity and especcially of Italian renaissance, but could also develop close ties to many outstanding German artists in Rome (the so-called: „Deutsch-Römer“). During this journey he draw many pictures which he later meticuluosly in Kassel created as etchings.

After his journey to Italy, Ludwig Emil Grimm returned for a year to Munich, but then in 1817 he established himself as a freelance artist in Kassel. In the following years he created many works in various artistic techniques and genres: he produced landscapes and animals, but in particular portraits and genre compositions. At the same time he was among the outstanding illustrators of the 19th century and created already in 1818 the first illustration for the „Children‘s and Household Tales“ of his famous brothers. He also made the famous portrait of the storyteller woman Dorothea Viehmann (1755–1815).

In 1825 he founded together with Gerhardt v. Reutern (1764–1865), an artist from Livonia, the first German colony of plein air painting in Willingshausen („Willingshauser Malerkolonie“), situated about forthy kilometers in the south of Kassel. The Hessian nobility of the barons of v. Schwertzell lived here for many centuries. The brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, already during their student years at the university of Marburg, became friends with the v. Schwertzell family. Subsequently they and their „painter brother“ Ludwig Emil Grimm visited frequently Willingshausen.

During the summer of 1825 Ludwig Emil Grimm and Gerhardt v. Reutern worked together in the nature near Willingshausen drawing fields and forests, villages, ponds and brooks. They transferred in this way their creative energy from the academic workshop and the painters studio to the immediacy and virginity of free nature. Many days from morning till evening the two artists drew trees, flowers, plants and different wild and domestic animals. And in the villages they created portraits and genres of peasant laborers in their traditional rural costumes or naive children with their uncomplicated games. Finally Reutern and Grimm documented with their drawings folk traditions and festivities of the whole Schwalm region in Hesse.

„Ich verlange alles treu nach der Natur, ohne eigenen Zweck, ohne alle Manier“ („I ask everything to be true to nature, without own purpose and without any style“) – Ludwig Emil Grimm wrote later programmatically in his memoirs.

The joint creative activity of Ludwig Emil Grimm and Gerhardt v. Reutern in Willingshausen marks the beginning of the tradition of plein air painting, long before the foundation of artistic villages in Barbizon or Fontainebleau in France and Dachau, Worpswede or Nidden in Germany. Subsequently an increasing number of artists from the academic cores of Kassel, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Dresden then came to Willingshausen following and further developing the tradition of plein air painting founded by Reutern and Grimm. Among them were f.e. Jacob Becker (1810–1872), Ludwig Knaus (1829-1910), Jacob Fürchtegott Dielmann (1809–1885), Adolf Lins (1856–1927), Wilhelm Thielmann (1868–1924), Otto Ubbelohde (1867–1922) and Carl Bantzer (1857–1941). Up to the present day Willingshausen in the Hessian region of Schwalm preserves this artistic tradition and is a vivid centre of German and European culture. In 1931 an Association („Vereinigung Malerstübchen“) was founded in Willingshausen and later a small museum in the „Gerhardt v. Reutern-Haus“ with a big exhibition hall, where every year interesting artistic and cultural programmes and manifestations regularly were organized.

Ludwig Emil Grimm lived and worked mostly in the household of his famous brothers in Kassel. He created illustrations, landscapes and genre pictures, but produced also many portraits, f.e. of the famous German writer Heinrich Heine (1797–1856), visiting Kassel in 1827, or of the excellent Italian violinist Nicola Paganini (1782–1840), playing in concert in Kassel in 1830. In 1828 Ludwig Emil Grimm participated with great enthusiasm in the celebration of the commemoration of the outstanding German artist Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) and created as a result a big picture of this important event in his artistic career.

Finally in 1832, in the age of 42 years, Ludwig Emil Grimm was appointed professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kassel and taught there up to the end of his life. In the same year he married the daughter Marie (1803–1842) of the academic artist Wilhelm Böttner (1752–1805). In 1833 their daughter Friederike (named „Ideke“; 1833–1914) was born. After the death of his first wife Ludwig Emil Grimm once again married the daughter Friederike (1806–1894) of the superintendent Christoph Friedrich Ernst (1765–1855) in Kassel.

In the mature age of his artistic career Ludwig Emil Grimm, similar to Gerhardt v. Reutern, turned to religious themes. His main painting in big format represents the „Baptism of a black“ („Die Mohrentaufe“; 1841), other drawings and paintings are dedicated to the „Death of Bonifatius, missionary of the Germans“ (1837), the „Death of St. Elisabeth“ (1836) or the „Religious colloquy“ of Martin Luther (1483–1546), Ulrich Zwingli (1484–1531) and Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560) in Marburg („Marburger Religionsgespräch“; about 1842).

Ludwig Emil Grimm suits however in his artistic work not the intellectual penetration of historical events and he does not generalize the image of reality, on the contrary he is obliged to a romantic contemplation of the beauty of nature. He died at the age of 73 years in Kassel. His works are kept mainly in the museums of Kassel, Marburg and Steinau, but also in several private collections in Germany. Today, his drawings and etchings in particular, find a growing interest.