Der Säufer (The Drunkard), 1804

Georg Emanuel Opiz (sometimes spelt Opitz to indicate the pronunciation) was an artist in the right place at the right time; born in Prague, his father Johann Ferdinand was a tax official who also worked as a writer and magazine editor, one of his regular correspondents was the famous Giacomo Casanova. Georg originally planned a career in law and took a law degree in Prague, studying drawing and painting in his spare time. Then he decided that art was more important than law, and in 1793 he enrolled at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste (Academy of Fine Arts) in Dresden, where his primary instructor was Giovanni Battista Casanova, brother of Giacomo.

After graduating he first made his living painting the wealthy guests at the spa in Karlsbad (now Karlovy Vary), and by the turn of the century was spending time in Hamburg, Bremen and Vienna.

Der Eislaufplatz beim Stubentor (The Ice Rink near the Stubentor), Vienna, 1805

In 1805 he married, and he and his wife settled in Leipzig, where he specialised in portrait miniatures. In 1814, following the war in which Napoleon was defeated, he went to Paris to create and sell etchings related to the victory of the winning coalition. He remained in Paris until 1817, when he returned to Leipzig and created a series of etchings about Paris, published by the prestigious firm of Brockhaus, and for the next twelve years worked almost exclusively for Brockhouse, as chief engraver for the magazine Urania. His best-known  publication, Charakterszenen aus dem Leben in Paris (Character Scenes from Life in Paris), with twenty-four coloured etchings, appeared in 1819, and during the 1820s he produced watercolours which suggest that he visited Russia and the Ottoman Empire. In 1828 he became a Professor at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig, where he produced the important portfolio Leipziger Messe Szenen (Leipzig Fair Scenes).

Example illustration