Martin Johann Schmidt (so-called Kremser Schmidt) was the most significant Austrian painter in the second half of the 18th century beside Maulbertsch.
He was a versatile and fertile master, whose frescoes, altarpieces,
mythological-allegorical paintings, genre paintings, and portraits
were popular throughout the Empire. He studied with modest local masters, and lived and worked in Stein and Krems until his death in 1801. In his stein workshop he undertook the numerous mostly ecclesiastical commissions making altarpieces and religious paintings for the churches and monasteries of Lower an Upper Austria, Moravia and Hungary. His fame was attested by his admission to the Viennese Academy in 1768.
In the last quarter of the century, when the increasing predominance of the Josephinist view contributed to the diminishing of church commissions, and while also the artistic trends raised new compelled to change his style and adopt new artistic approaches. From the 1790s he was increasingly engaged in secular genres and profane themes, and he made in series his small paintings with themes and figures from ancient history and everyday life. His late activity is significantly bound to engraving.
His oeuvre, comprising several hundreds of paintings combines the influences of Italian and Netherlandish masters and the most varied tendencies of 18th century painting. His altarpieces and monumental paintings, show a dramatic Late Baroque animation, the sometimes exotic richness of his biblical stories evokes the models of Rembrandt,
while in his genre paintings the vividness of French Rococo can be felt, in a particular and individual ensemble.
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