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 Heinrich Zille  (1858 - 1929)

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Lived/Active: Germany      Known for: painting

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Heinrich Zille (1858-1929)

He came from an impoverished family, often plagued by creditors, and the young Heinrich was forced to earn money with small errands at an early age.  He also earned the money for his first drawing lessons himself and served his apprenticeship under a lithographer after leaving school; at the same time he studied under Professor Theodor Hosemann, who advised him to go to the streets, to observe and to draw. After completing his studies Zille was employed by different graphic firms before working for the Photographische Gesellschaft Berlin (Photographic Association Berlin) from 1877 onwards for thirty consecutive years.  After his discharge from the military, he began to work as a freelance painter while still working for the Photographische Gesellschaft and developed his characteristic style: his works are characterized by scenes from the Berlin ‘Milljöh’, from the backstreets and the world of the proletarian underclass, to which he often added typical Berlin witticisms.

In 1903 Zille became a member of the Berlin Secession.  He was a close friend of Max Liebermann and became more and more known and popular, resulting in his appointment as Professor at the Prussian Academy of the Arts in 1924.  After his death in 1929, Zille was buried in an Ehrengrab (grave of honor).  A museum in Berlin is dedicated to the exceptional artist, countless streets and schools are named after him.

The art museum of Mühlheim / Ruhr owns the largest collection of Zille drawings outside of Berlin.

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