The concept "Düsseldorf School" denotes a painting academy established in Düsseldorf in 1826 with the accession of Wilhelm von Schadow, from the earlier drawing school, as its leader. This special development from drawing school to painting academy already refers to distinguishing features of the Düsseldorf School: in contrast to the contemporary Nazarenes, who in their emphasis of lines were following the Italian Renaissance, the Düsseldorf School aspired rather to emphasize color. This intention was manifested in the first public exhibition of the Düsseldorf School in 1836; correspondingly, Ludwig Richter put on record, as he viewed the pictures, that he wanted from then on to pay more attention to the effect of the colors and light than to the lines.
Thematically, the Düsseldorf School followed the subjects of Romanticism and treated literary and biblical content, such as idealizing, sentimental historical pictures that often play out in scenery from the Middle Ages. Besides these poeticizing components, a realistic thread can also be seen running through the Düsseldorf School with its nature observation. Particularly under the leadership of Schirmer, landscape painting is accorded a high value in Düsseldorf. From this starting position, some realistic landscape painters established the artist association "Malkasten" in 1848. The painter Aschenbach showed that landscape painting of the Düsseldorf School also retained artistic interest after 1850.