richard muller untitled
6 min

The Complications Of Love In The Art Of Richard Müller

6 min

Richard Müller (1874-1954) was a natural-born artist whose career was defined both by talent and luck, but the historical context made him a controversial figure. He was the youngest student at the Dresden Art Academy and eventually became its' rector in 1933. His symbolist works with nude women and exotic animals still catch the eye with their elegance. Nevertheless, the Nazi regime regarded them as degenerate and expelled the artist from the party in 1935. The fact that later Müller was commissioned to draw a Christmas present for the führer allows some people to consider him being promoted by the regime, though there's no evidence of this.

 richard muller art

Fig. 1.

richard muller nude with monkeys

Fig. 2.

 richard muller nude male

Fig. 3.

richard muller Rivalen

Fig. 4. Rivalen (

Like A Gypsy

Richard Müller was born in Tschirnitz (today Czech Republic) in a family of weavers. The beautiful Bohemian landscape probably was a reason for the kid to fall in love with drawing. Soon, he started copying pictures from magazines like Gartenlaube. Some visual elements of his later works, like tamed bears and monkeys, seem to be a reminder of his childhood encounters with gypsies. "Yes, the gypsies were people who aroused my curiosity. I often accompanied them for hours after they had pitched their tents and marveled at their strange appearance, long black hair, language, which was incomprehensible to me, and rather defective but all the more colorful language, mostly red clothes. I admired the animals that they took with them, such as bears, monkeys, and camels, donkeys, all of which had a very special charm for me, yes, I would have preferred to have been a gypsy myself and always accompanied them fairly. This enthusiasm only died down a bit when the too-close contact with these people brought vermin to me from time to time" (the autobiography,

 richard muller Boy With Snake

Fig. 5. Boy With Snake (

 richard muller Archer III

Fig. 6. Archer III (

 richard muller The Incorruptible

Fig. 7. The Incorruptible (

 richard muller Full of Enthusiasm

Fig. 8. Full of Enthusiasm (

Lucky Rainy Day

Müller's parents wanted him to be an engineer, but the lucky accident changed his career perspective. Many foreigners were attracted by the local mountains, and once, a tourist came to Müller's home soaked in the rain. The man saw Richard drawing and said decisively "The boy must become a painter!". It was "Herr Theil," the porcelain painter from the famous Meissen manufactory. He promised to discuss things with Meissen's management and told 14-years-old Richard to select the best drawings. Although the young artist and his parents thought the stranger would have forgotten everything as soon as the weather would be fine, several days later, Richard received a request from Meissen, and then he was accepted to the painting school of the manufactory.

richard muller David and Goliath

Fig. 9. David and Goliath (

 richard muller Agony

Fig. 10. Agony (

 richard muller Knight Rescues a Girl

Fig. 11. Knight Rescues a Girl (

 richard muller untitled

Fig. 12. Untitled (

 richard muller  Archer II

Fig. 13. Archer II (

The Penniless Artist And Grand Prix Winner

Two years later, being only fifteen years old, Richard Müller was sent to the Dresden Academy with a scholarship from Meissen on the terms that he would return after three years of study. The painter didn't want to stay at Meissen: "it was a foregone conclusion for me that I would not accept the tuition money from the manufactory, nor did I want to commit myself to return to the manufactory after three years of study, because I had to be unattached." He went to Dresden on his own and was accepted to the academy, notwithstanding his young age. There, Müller earned a living with manual work, and already in the second semester, he was exempted from paying school fees. After three semesters of studying at the academy, where his mentors were Leon Pohle, Ernst Moritz Geyger, and Leonhard Gey, Müller became a freelance painter. In 1894, he exhibited his landscape and animal studies at the Ernst Arnold Salon. The following year, he met engraver Max Klinger who advised him to try etching techniques. In 1896, presented at the same salon, the artist won the Grand Prix de Rome of the Prussian Academy of Arts for his Adam and Eve etching, which allowed him to travel to Italy.

 richard muller Reclining nude

Fig. 14. Reclining nude (

 richard muller Sketch of a nude

Fig. 15. Sketch of a nude (

  richard muller Lying nude

Fig. 16. Lying nude (

 richard muller Standing nude

Fig. 17. Standing nude (

In the exclusive Premium version of the article you can find, among other things, the reason why Adolf Hitler was provoked by Müller's art, the artist's motives for the inclusion of animals in his images and an additional 25 images.

Click HERE for a  rare shunga album depicting animals performing cunnilingus