Bauernmalerei (pronounced bow-urn-maler-rye) is folk art associated with Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The term comes from two words: "bauern" which means peasant or farmer and "malerei" which means painting. In reality, the farmers and peasants hardly did any painting - they were too busy in the fields and in fact were customers to travelling painters and cabinetmakers.

It originated in the Bavarian and Austrian Alps and the Swiss Apenzell and is therefore also commonly referred to as "Bavarian Folk Art".

Although Bauernmalerei began as something very simple and naive, it has undergone many phases of evolution.

Folk Art - Bauernmalerei Beginner Project

A beginner bauernmalerei project. A very simple design with all the elements of bauernmalerei. The background is faux leather achieved using the technique of sponging-off.

Trends in art and architecture exerted heavy influences and various styles of Bauernmalerei emerged between the 17th century and the 19th century. Each period - The Renaissance Period (17th Century), The Baroque Period (1700 - 1800), The Rococo Era (circa 1750), The Empire Era and The Biedermeier Era (up to the mid-19th century) - brought with it influences which affected the type of backgrounds painted on - raw, painted or faux finished, the way the designs were arranged - symmetrical or asymmetrical, the type of flowers and objects painted as well as colors used.

Folk Art - Bauernmalerei - Multi-loaded Roses

A bombay box on which antique postcards were decoupaged and then painted with multi-loaded roses in the Bauernmalerei style. This was a project painted with well known multi-loading artist, Lea Davis.

Folk Art - Bauernmalerei - Multi-loaded Roses

Multi-loaded roses and a dove painted on a maroon background in this simple Bauernmalerei project.

Regional variations of Bauernmalerei

There were many regional variations as the art spread throughout Europe from village to village. Master craftsmen applied their preferred techniques and styles to individualize their painted decoration.

The Tolzer Style originated from a town called Bad Tolz in Southern Germany. The most famous is the Tolzer Rose which has become a favourite with many folk artists. The style is easy and is ideal for beginners.

The Rossler Style was painted mainly on schranks, beds and trunks by painters in a village just north of Stuttgart. This style features not only flowers but also animals and peasant scenes, fruit baskets, hearts and swirls. The painting is generally naive with a combination of blues and greens as backgrounds and characteristic red borders.

The Wismut Style was associated with "wismut" which is a metal mined in the Erz mountains of Germany. It was applied as background on small chests to imitate the silver chests of the wealthy after which flowers were painted on them. Figures in old costumes and beautiful borders around the edges are also featured on some trunks.

The Hessian Style - only trunks are painted in the Hessian style. The backgrounds were usually medium to a very dark blue. Flowers and borders on these pieces are usually quite primitive.

The Franconian Style is associated with Franconia, the northern region of Bavaria. The vases and flowers painted in this style are not as elaborate as those painted in lower Bavaria but are still rather pretty. "Peasant marble" also features in this style.

Folk Art - Bauernmalerei - Franconian Style

A round box with a Franconian design by Lia which I painted as a wedding gift . The sides of the box are painted with blue and white scrolls.

The Black Forest Style In the southwest corner of Germany, bordering Switzerland and France, lies an area called Black Forest - in German - Schwarzwald. The kind of painting originating from this region is very different and resembles porcelain painting. Everywhere else in Germany white overstrokes are used as highlights on flowers, here the white from the background comes through as a highlight. Most of the time the background is painted in either off-white or an almost black.

Folk Art - Bauernmalerei - Black Forest Style

A small bin painted in the Black Forest style. Features colour washes and linework. The corners were antiqued to give it an aged look.


Books to help you

Bauernmalerei: Folk Art from Europe
Eva Tummel, Nichole Tummell

Painting Folk Art Flowers
Enid Hoessinger

Appenzeller Bauernmalerei: Appenzell Peasant Art
Rudolf Hanhart

Rosi Fey

Scottie's Guide to Bauernmalerei: Bavarian folk art
Scottie Foster



Artezan Home

Traditional Folk Art

Canalboat Painting
French Folk Art

Contemporary Decorative Painting

Faux Finishes in Decorative Painting

Decorative Painting Gallery




You are visitor number

© 1999 - Artezan. All Rights Reserved.