Joseph Klotz (1785–1830)

Joseph Klotz (1785–1830)

Joseph Klotz (Munich 1785 – 1830 Munich)

Portrait of a Young Gentleman, full-length, in a wooded landscape

Watercolour, black ink framing lines, on wove paper, 435 x 318 mm (17.1 x 12.5 inch)

Signed at lower right ‘J: Klotz’ (pen and black ink)

Dr Anton Strähuber (1877–1939), Munich, and by family descent until sold in 2014 (Strähuber inventory no. 1536)


Joseph Klotz was born in Munich in 1785, the son of the painter Matthias Klotz  (1748–1821), who was also his first teacher.1 In his youth he travelled to France and Northern Germany, where he visited Paris and Berlin and studied the works of the old and modern masters which could be seen there. Klotz is mostly known as a decorative painter, especially of theatrical schemes, which he brought to a high degree of perfection. He was appointed official painter to the Royal Hoftheater in Munich. He succeeded his father as the first theater painter in 1821.

In addition to his decorative schemes, Joseph Klotz also produced highly accomplished easel paintings in oils, and watercolours and drawings. His masterpiece is a ‘transparent’ theatre backdrop of the great 1812 fire of Moscow, which premiered in the Theater an dem Isarthor on 3 July 1814.2 A view of Munich by his hand, dated 1817, is preserved in the Neue Pinakothek, Munich (see last fig.).3

Though the artist was celebrated by his contemporaries, he is nowadays mostly forgotten, which is largely due to the temporary nature of most of his creations. Only a handful of his works are known today. The quality and meticulous execution of the present large and colourful sheet, together with its great charm, make it especially deplorable that not more of Klotz’s works have survived.

Although our drawing is not dated, the costume worn by the fashionable young man is typical of the late Empire and early Biedermeier period – it can be dated c. 1815, when Klotz was at the height of his artistic powers. Wearing elegant leather boots and holding a bamboo walking cane, the young man has just placed his top hat on a large rock and casually examines the viewer,his right hand tucked away in his coat, à la Napoleon. The ‘hand-in-waitcoat’ pose was fashionable in the early nineteenth century, but in fact originates from Classical times: Aeschines, founder of a rhetoric school, suggested that speaking with an arm outside one’s toga was rude.

This is the first time our watercolour has been on the market in at least a hundred years. It formed part of the collection of the medic Dr Anton Strähuber (1877–1939), grandson of the Munich artist Alexander Strähuber (1814–1882), and remained with the Strähuber family until 2014.


1. The best biography of Klotz is still that by Georg Kaspar Nagler, Neues allgemeines Künstler-Lexicon: oder Nachrichten von dem Leben und den Werken der Maler (…), vol. VII (Keysen-Lodewyck), Munich 1839, p. 68.

2. For a glowing and vivid contemporary account, see the Gesellschaftsblatt für gebildete Stände, Munich, 16 June 1814, cols. 374-76.

3. Oil on canvas, 31 x 44 cm; Katalog zur Ausstellung deutscher Kunst aus der Zeit von 1775–1875 in der Königlichen Nationalgalerie Berlin, Munich 1906, cat. no. 837.

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Joseph Klotz (1785–1830)
Joseph Klotz (1785–1830)
Joseph Klotz (1785–1830)
Joseph Klotz (1785–1830)
Joseph Klotz (1785–1830)
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