German painter; born at Potsdam May, 1756; died at Breslau April 8, 1829 (according to some sources in 1826). As his father was a merchant and an elder (Landesältester) of the Brandenburg Jewry, Karl was enabled to obtain from the Potsdam painter, A. B. Krüger, his first instruction in the art of painting; later, through the influence of Colonel Guichard ("Quintus Icilius"), he succeeded in entering the Berlin Academy of Arts, and became intimately connected with Lesueur, Chodowiecki, and Frish. At Bach's instance life studies were introduced at the Academy. Bach soon distinguished himself by skilfully executed copies of old works, and upon arriving at Warsaw with Count Ossolinski in 1780, achieved considerable success. Later he accompanied Count John Potocki on his travels; copied paintings in Düsseldorf; and was made member of the local academy, Dec. 15, 1785. Thence he went to Paris, and afterward to Italy, where he remained for four years (1786-1792), studying at the expense of his patron, Potocki, at first in Rome—where he applied himself chiefly to the productions of Raphael and Michelangelo—and subsequently in Portici, where the antiquities of Herculaneum held his attention. Elected member of the Academy of Florence on Dec. 9, 1788, he visited Venice, Vienna, and Berlin, at which latter place he exhibited his productions—copies, for the most part, of works of Italian masters. In 1792 Bach was appointed a director and professor of the Breslau Art Academy; and on June 23, 1794, he became member of the Academy of Berlin. Two years later, in conjunction with C. F. Benkendorf, he started a journal called "Torso," devoted to "ancient and modern art"; but after a short time its publication was discontinued.

Bach has published: "Umrisse der Besten Köpfe und Parthien nach Rafael's Gemälden im Vatican"; and "Anweisung Schöne Formen nach Einer Einfachen Regel zu' Bilden, für Künstler, Handwerker, und Freunde des Schönen"—each of which is a treatise on art conceived in accordance with somewhat old-fashioned academic traditions. Bach made use of the etching-needle; and in his paintings he chose historical subjects, portraits, animals, and many allegorical themes, all conceived in the spirit of the epoch. Though not a very important figure in the world of art, he rendered great service to the cause of art in Germany by his helpful stimulation of fellow-artists, and by encouraging and promoting instruction in drawing, handicraft, etc. Bach died a Christian proselyte.

  • J. F. A. De Le Roi, Gesch. der Evangelischen Judenmission, i. 56, Leipsic, 1899;
  • Julius Meyer, Allg. Künstler-Lexikon, ii., Leipsic, 1878;
  • Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, i., 1875;
  • Michael Bryan, Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, i., London, 1886.
S. B. B.
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