Wagner Art

Wagner's music dramas inspired not only musicians and composers but artists alike. One of the most famous artists to illustrate Wagner's operas was the noted 19th century German artist Ferdinand Leeke (1859-1925). He was born in the town of Burg near Magdeburg, Germany on April 7th 1859. He studied at the Munich Academy under the famed Johann Herterich (1843-1905), considered to be a remarkable genre and historical painter, and with the Hungarian genre and landscape painter, Alexander von Wagner (1838-1919).

Ferdinand Leeke's series of paintings include scenes from ten operas of Richard Wagner:

Rienzi: Act IV, Scene II
Der fliegende Holländer: Act III, Final Scene
Tannhäuser: Act III, Scene I
Lohengrin: Act III, Final Scene
Das Rheingold: Scene II
Die Walküre: Act I
Siegfried: Act II
Götterdämmerung: Act III
Tristan und Isolde: Act II
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Act III

These ten painting were commissioned by Wagner's son Siegfried (1869-1930) to commemorate his father and his work. The date of the commission is uncertain, but it is believed that Leeke was working on the paintings in 1889 and that the series was completed by 1898. The ten paintings were reproduced in poster form in 1899 in the then-revolutionary six-colour photogravure process by the prominent Bavarian printer Franz Hanfstaengel. They were among the first images in the world to be reproduced in this manner.

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