The Munich School is the name given to a style of painting in Munich in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It developed in the environment of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and soon achieved great importance in academic painting.
King Ludwig I, who had ruled since 1825, promoted art on the one hand through museums, and on the other hand also by supporting contemporary art, which made Munich one of the world's most important centres of painting between 1850 and 1914. This unusually strong commitment to culture is interpreted as compensation for the country's low economic and military importance.
Neither Berlin nor Düsseldorf had comparable public support. At the same time, art criticism managed to attract an audience throughout Germany, and in some cases political criticism was also voiced through art criticism. King Ludwig I was also keen to promote art outside the country's borders, for example by commissioning German artists in Rome.
The Nazarene Peter von Cornelius and Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld had previously worked at the Academy. With the appointment of Karl von Piloty as the new director, the academic standard was perfected on the one hand, but also aligned with dynastic preferences on the other. This point in time is considered the beginning of the Munich School. One of Ludwig I's concerns was also to re-establish fresco painting. After Peter von Cornelius had created the frescoes in the Hofgarten arcades, the Munich School gained greater international attention and importance for the first time. The painting repertoire initially comprised mainly history painting, later also genre and landscape painting as well as portraits and depictions of animals. In 1843, the Neue Pinakothek was opened, where works of the Munich School were also exhibited. At the latest since the 1867 World Exhibition in Paris, the Munich School had taken the lead in the development of German art and replaced the Düsseldorf School of Painting.
With the beginning of the First World War, sales figures on the art market collapsed, leading to an artistic decline of the Munich School.