Franz Bunke

Schwaan 03.12.1857 – Weimar 06.07.1939

His best-known landscape motifs include drawings and oil paintings of his home town of Schwaan, meadows and ponds on the Warnow and the neighboring villages. He exhibited his works regularly at the exhibitions of the Academy of Arts in Berlin, the "Great Berlin Art Exhibitions", from 1903 to 1914 also in the Munich Glaspalast and in 1914 in a painting exhibition in Vienna in the Salon Pisko. Albin Egger-Lienz published an eight-page brochure for this exhibition. In 1930, his works were shown in a solo exhibition in his home town of Schwaan.

Franz Bunke was born on December 3, 1857, the son of a millwright in Schwaan. Thanks to his parents' open-mindedness, he was able to pursue his artistic inclinations at an early age. From 1871 to 1874, Franz Bunke received drawing lessons from the portrait painter Paul Tischbein in Rostock and attended the trade school there after Tischbein's death. In the spring of 1878, he began studying at the Berlin Academy, but transferred to the Weimar School of Painting after the first semester, where Bunke was a student of Theodor Hagen until 1884. He was then entrusted with a teaching position for landscape painting in Weimar. From 1892, Bunke regularly brought pupils to Schwaan, and colleagues such as Paul Baum and Richard Starcke also studied nature here. Grand Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar awarded Franz Bunke the title of professor in 1910. He was an honorary member of the Thuringian Exhibition Association of Visual Artists and the Mecklenburg Artists' Association. In 1927, Franz Bunke was made an honorary citizen of the town of Schwaan. An avenue was named after him. He expressed his gratitude by donating a painting to the town. As the founder, representative and central figure of the artists' colony, Franz Bunke is of outstanding importance for Schwaan and helped open-air painting in Mecklenburg to make its breakthrough. Franz Bunke died in Weimar on July 6, 1939. Franz Bunke enjoyed professional success from a young age and was held in high esteem well into old age. As early as 1883, two of the student's works from the exhibition at the Glaspalast in Munich were sold to England.

In 1896, he received the Golden Medal at the jubilee exhibition celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Royal Academic College of Fine Arts in Berlin. From 1903 to 1914, the Weimar artists chose him as their representative for the exhibitions in Munich's Glaspalast.

Numerous works were sold abroad through participation in major exhibitions in England, the USA, Denmark, Italy, Sweden and Holland. A painting exhibition in Vienna in 1914 was accompanied by sensational success. His works can also be found in collections in Berlin, Hanover, Weimar, Würzburg, Rostock and Schwerin.

While his early paintings, with their fine rendering of the figurative and staffage figures, reveal a connection to 17th century Dutch painting, his work after 1890 is characterized by a fine view of nature.

Bunke was a master in the rendering of air and light. He saw a sublime grandeur in nature; for him it was both a place of devotion and a living space. This view united him with Otto Modersohn. Franz Bunke was a commendable patron of artistic talent, such as Rudolf Bartels and Peter Paul Draewing.

He remained loyal to his home town throughout his life and returned to Schwaan every summer to study.