Heinrich Bürkel was born in Pirmasens in 1802. At first he completed an apprenticeship as a merchant, at the age of twenty he moved to Munich. Heinrich Bürkel applied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts but was refused admission. The wish to become a painter was so strong that Heinrich Bürkel began to study and copy the paintings by the masters of the 17th and 18th century in the Munich Pinacotheca. This way he pursued his dream to become a painter as an autodidact and was soon able to sell his works with big success. In 1823 Heinrich Bürkel founded the Munich Kunstverein, which had its premises in the arcades of the Hofgarten (Court Garden). The association was in competition with the Art Academy, it offered its members a forum for the presentation and observation of non-academic painting. Heinrich Bürkel was a close friend of Carl Spitzweg and Eduard Schleich the Elder. In 1846 he became acquainted with Adalbert Stifter, who would be a very close friend of Bürkel until the end of his life.
Together with his painter colleague Friedrich Nerly Heinrich Bürkel visited Italy for the first time in 1827. Further journeys with at times longer stays followed between 1830 and 1832, in 1838 and in 1853/54. Bürkel strolled through the Roman Campagna, and visited Rome and its historic sights. Heinrich Bürkel also found motifs in his adopted home of Upper Bavaria and the Austrian alpine upland all the way to Tyrol. He sold many of his oil paintings with great success, collectors from all over Europe and even from North America value the technical quality and Heinrich Bürkels gift in telling stories and anecdotes in combination with a beautifully executed observation of nature.
In 1843 Heinrich Bürkel became honorary member of the academies in Dresden and Vienna. In 1858 the Munich Academy of Fine Arts appointed him honorary member. He showed his works at the London world fair in 1862 and in 1867 in Paris. Heinrich Bürkels oeuvre comprises more than 1,000 oil painting as over 6,000 drawings. Many his paintings are in possession of international museums and collections, among them the National Gallery, London, the Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, the Neue Pinakothek, Munich and the Milwaukee Art Museum.
In 1869 Heinrich Bürkel died in Munich after a long illness.
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