Richard Seewald Biography

Richard Seewald




Painter, printmaker, muralist, and draughtsman Richard Seewald was born in Arnswalde, Poland (now a part of Germany), on May 4, 1889. He enrolled at Munich Polytechnic (now Technical University) to study architecture but soon turned to art, teaching himself how to draw. Entering a cartoon into the magazine "Die Jugend," his work was accepted and he began earning income from illustrations in several publications, including Meggendorfer Blatter and Lustige Blatter. This afforded him the ability to learn etching and blockprinting, which carried over both into fine art and illustration. The painterly qualities of etching, however, inspired Seewald to try his hand at oil painting, and in 1913 he began to explore the new medium as he exhibited his prints and drawings throughout Germany and Paris. His work was great influenced by the leading German Expressionists of the day, as well as Cubism and the avant-garde, and in the same year that he began to paint he joined the New Secessionists and the Deutscher Kunstlerbund artist groups. 

Seewald was exempted from military service in World War I and as a result was able to travel to the South of France and the Swiss Ticino region, where he set up temporary studios and worked prolifically. This region would be a continual sourse of inspiration for the artist and he would frequently return, especially to Ticino, establishing friendships with important figures throughout Italy, Switzerland, and France as he went. In 1921 Seewalk, having already established himself as a book illustrator, wrote and illustrated his first book, "Tiere und Landschaften," and in addition to continued exhibitions throughout Europe he would write in his spare time; in total, he wrote and illustrated thirty-nine books.  

In 1924 Seewald accepted his first teaching post at the Kolner Werkschulen, where he remained until 1931, when a rapidly changing nationalistic political climate forced him to relocate. He settled on land he had purchased in Ronco, Ticino, and he was granted honorary Swiss citizenship in 1939. That same year, he held his first exhibition in London. He remained in Switzerland until 1949, when he visited Cologne for the first time since the end of the Second World War. 

In 1954 Seewald held a traveling retrospective of his work on the occasion of his 65th birthday in Lucerne, Dusseldorf, Mannheim, and Munich. Following this, he took up a tenured position at the Fine Arts Academy in Munich where he remained for four years. By now the artist, who had converted to Catholicism in 1929, had taken on a religious focus and, after retiring from teaching entirely, took on commissions for murals, stained glass, tapestries, and paintings that he called "Sacred Works." He held a major exhibition of these paintings at the Catholic Academy of Bavaria in 1974.

He continued to work until his death on October 29, 1976, in Munich.

Seewald exhibited prolifically. A complete list of his exhibitions throughout Europe can be found at the website of the artist's estate, here.