The concept "Biedermeier" marks for the German-speaking world the time of the Restoration and the Pre-March Era. Originally, it was the pseudonym of a popular figure in the journal Fliegende Blätter [Flying Leaves/Pages] and had negative connotations. The disappointment after the Wars of Liberation and the restorative measures that had a braking effect on the middle classes lead to their retreat into private spaces. This condition is also reflected in art; first primarily used for arts and crafts, Biedermeier is carried over to painting and literature as well.
In the cultivation of home decor, this style places simpler forms and fine materials with shiny, polished surfaces in opposition to the ostentatious Empire style. Light woods are preferred, and these can be delimited by artful inlays. The decor is reserved: pilasters, pillars, palmettes and flower motifs are readily used; gilding or the Egyptian embellishments of the Empire are strictly avoided. In painting, this simplicity is reflected in uncomplicated compositions; for the most part small-format pictures were made, meant for private rooms. In like manner, their themes are often narrative scenes with familiar content. The genre picture reaches its high point. The apparently harmonious-looking representations contain, however – especially in Spitzweg – a deeper meaning. In his paintings, the once represented unity of human and nature is reduced to absurdity, and romantic motifs are observed at an ironic distance, so that the works of the artist are entirely critical of society. A characteristic feature of Biedermeier is fashion: women wear white tiered skirts and a high, tightly laced bodice. The men wear a suit, vest, and the typical shirt with a high collar as well as a top hat.
Important artists are: Eduard Gärtner, Johann Peter Hasenclever, Georg Friedrich Kersting, Franz Krüger, Ludwig Richter, Moritz von Schwind, Carl Spitzweg, Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, Franz Xaver Winterhalter.