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The Austrian Painter

Thomas Ender
November 3, 1793 September 28, 1875
Gloria Kaiser
Graz, Austria
January 2010

Located in the Kupferstichkabinett (copperplate engraving room) of the Academy of Fine

Arts in Vienna is one of the most beautiful collections of water-color art of the Vienna
Biedermeier period, the paintings by Thomas Ender.

Thomas Ender

Childhood, education
Thomas Ender and his twin brother Johann were born in a Vienna suburb on November 3, 1793.
The nancial situation of the family was dismal. The father was a dealer of second-hand goods
and while the income was meager, the trade provided an inspiration for the young boys who
found among the goods drawings, oil paintings, and sketches that awakened their interest in
painting. At the early age of 13, in April 1806, both boys were admitted to the Academy of Fine
Arts in the St. Anna Convent. There they rst learned to create art by copying paintings, then to
draw and develop works based on statues and busts.

Early years
Johann Ender quickly recognized that
his professional goal was to be portrait
painting. Thomas was drawn to nature
studies and to landscape painting, but
above all to produce his landscapes
in water color, a difcult medium in
which to work.
Financially, this was a difcult time for
Thomas Ender. Since he did not come
from a family which could support him
during his studies, he needed money
for food as well as a place to sleep.
Above all he needed tuition money.
Consequently he accepted any kind of
part-time work: shoveling coal, delivering messages, and playing the violin
in a caf at night.

T. Ender, 1810

In the year 1810 Prince Metternich, the Minister of State, became the curator of the Academy of
Fine Arts. Metternich immediately took note of Thomas Ender and began promoting his works.
In 1810 Thomas Ender also received a prize from the Academy for the best landscape painting.
The award spurred him on and he developed his own water-color style, a background of detail
that was colorfully rich in nuances, while for the foreground he used broad strokes of the brush.
The intensive autodidactic work sharpened his senses; his water-color paintings remained unembellished and true to life. His landscapes and his portrayals of social life are not idealizations. He
painted as he saw nature and people, as well as the surrounding situation.
In December of 1815 he received a large scholarship of 150 guilders. (In todays currency this
would be approximately $3,592.00)

Academy of Fine Arts

1688 Peter Strudel, court and
chamber painter to Emperor Leopold I, opened a private academy.
1692 Earliest mention of the
Academys ofcial recognition
by the Emperor it is thus the
oldest art academy in Central Europe. Lessons were held in Peter
Strudels private residence near
Whringer Strae.
1759 The Court Academy moved
into the building of the former
university todays Academy of

1817 A fateful year

In his memoirs Thomas Ender writes: Because of the marriage of our Princess Leopoldina to Pedro Bragana, an
expedition focusing on natural history was sent to Brazil.
Even a painter was supposed to be taken along.
Thomas Ender applied for the position as artist for the
expedition. With the patronage of Prince Metternich he was
awarded the position of painter for the expedition which
included several Austrian scientists.
At that time Thomas Ender was not quite 24 years old.

Voyage to Brazil
Two Austrian frigates, the Austria and the Augusta, put
out to sea from Trieste on April 10, 1817. On board were
the expeditions members, their equipment, and the crews
of the ships. Housed in small pens aboard the ships were
sheep, cattle and chickens to be used for food.
Because of bad weather the voyage had to be interrupted
several times, stopping in Pola, Malta, Gibraltar, and in Madeira. In all of these harbors the ships had to be repaired.
Finally they were able to cross the Atlantic.

1772 State Chancellor Wenzel

Anton Prince Kaunitz united all of
the then-extant art schools within
the k.k. freye, vereinigte Akademie
der bildenden Knste, todays
Academy of Fine Arts: the Imperial and Royal Court Academy of
Painters, Sculptors and Architects,
the Imperial and Royal Engraving
Academy, as well as the Engravers and Ore Cutters School, and
later on, the Commercial Drawing
1783 Joseph II decreed that all
craftsmen take their masters
exam at the Academy and present their masterpiece. Drawing
lessons at ordinary schools were
placed under the supervision of
the Academy, which put forth
the candidates for the position of
drawing teachers.
1786 The Academy moved to the
so-called St.-Anna-Gebude in
Annagasse. Public art exhibitions
were held.
1800 The Academy was placed
under the supervision of an Imperial curator.
18101848 State Chancellor
Clemens Wenzel von Metternich
became curator of the Academy.

During the crossing and during the stays in the harbors, Thomas Ender had taken every opportunity to capture in his paintings the landscapes and cityscapes as well as life aboard ship.
Sailors on the fregatte Austria

Fregatte Austria

After 92 days of travel, the expedition arrived in Rio de Janeiro in Guanabara Bay on July 14, 1817.

Disembarking on arrival

One year in Rio de Janeiro

The impressions of the tropics and of the city were overwhelming for Ender. He threw himself
into his work with great enthusiasm and painted one water-color after another.
The already rich stimulus of Rio de Janeiro is well documented in his water-colors. In Brazil
Enders cool tones became warm. The colouring of the foliage became smoother, with a deep
feeling for nature and a well mastered technique. He composed and provided his pictures with
a singular luminous effect, very strong in the foreground and vanishing into the most delicate
tones in the remotest background, wrote Karl von Schreibers, the scientic organizer of the expedition.
Thomas Ender was carried away into a creative frenzy. He worked to the point of total exhaustion
and suffered a breakdown. When he had somewhat recovered, he joined a traveling group of Austrian ofcials (chamberlains) for a few days journey to Sao Paulo, and as a consequence he became ill again. He then asked for permission to return early to Austria, returning on June 1, 1818.

Result of the Brazilian year

During the year in Brazil, Thomas
Ender completed a total of 782
works consisting of water-colors
and sketches. This means that he
painted or drew 2 works per day
illustrating in detail the lives of
the people along with the ora and
fauna of the country.
To be precise, there were 652 pictures of Rio and the surroundings
and 130 of the voyage. Beyond that
he created an additional album of
71 water-colors for his patron Metternich.
The paintings were displayed in
the Brazilian Museum in Vienna,
which had been specically erected for exhibits of Brazils zoology,
botany, and mineralogy, as well as
for the drawings of Thomas Ender.
Top: Street Life in Rio de Janeiro
Middle: Area surrounding Rio de Janeiro

Banana Plantation

Gloria Church
Dona Leopoldinas favorite

The Royal Palace

Boa Vista

A fortunate event for Thomas Enders water colors

The drawings by Thomas Ender remained on display until the death in March 1835 of Emperor Francis I, when they were transferred to the Court Library and later to the Vienna Academy of Arts, and
the Kupferstichkabinett.
The decision to move Enders paintings was responsible for saving these unique works of art for future
generations, for, during the great re during the revolution of 1848 many collections from the Brazilian expedition were destroyed.
Today Enders paintings are among the most valuable pieces in the Academys collections as they are
the unique documents of the Austrian expedition to Brazil in 1817. They are also important and rare
documents for Brazil, as they show Rio de Janeiro and its surroundings during a time for which there
are few pictorial documents.

Thomas Enders artistic work after the Brazilian year

Following his return from Brazil, Thomas Ender was regarded as a recognized landscape painter
in Vienna for his unique and accomplished style. He became the Archduke Johanns personal
painter and undertook long journeys with Prince Johann to Greece, to the Black Sea and as far as
From all the journeys he brought back water-colors. His portrayals of glaciers, cloisters, palaces,
and scenes on streets and squares are masterful.

The Acropolis in Athens, Greece, 1837

Oberdobling, Austria 1814

The University-career of Thomas Ender

In December 1836 Thomas Ender was
appointed as full professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. With that he
had achieved professional stability, for
both his social status and his nancial
situation became secure at least for
several years.
In the revolution year 1848 his great
patron, Prince Metternich, was forced to
step down and ee Austria. The Academy
and the entire educational system were
then totally reformed. Thomas Ender
was not able to come to an understanding with the rebellious students who demanded the right to a voice in academics,
and in November 1850 he was dismissed
as a professor of the Academy.

Tiroler Gebirgslandschaft, 1844

The end of the Vienna Biedermeier period

After 1848 water-color landscape paintings in soft, iridescent colors were no longer in demand,
but were regarded as nostalgic reminders of a time in which much had been embellished and covered over, something many believed they overcame with the events of the revolution.
Thomas Enders Private Life
In January 1832 (at the age of 38 years) Ender married the twenty-year-old Theresia Arvay. In
1834 their son Heinrich was born and in 1836 their daughter Anna, who died at the age of 13.
Enders marriage was not happy. His wife left him and the two little children to emigrate to
America with an ofcer from Poland. Ender raised the two children by himself. His son Heinrich
became a railroad engineer. The relationship between father and son was especially close, thus
the early death of his son in 1870 at the age of 36 was very painful for Thomas Ender.
After the death of his son, Ender lived in total isolation. He continued, however, to paint tirelessly. He died on September 28, 1875, at the age of 82 years.

Ender, 1860

Selected Bibliograhy
Thomas Ender, Kaiser/Wagner, ADEVA-Verlag, Graz
Thomas Ender, Walter Koschatzky, Lykam Verlag, Graz
O velho Rio de Janeiro atravs das gravuras de Thomas Ender,
Gilberto Ferrez, Edies Melhoramentos, Rio de Janeiro