20 Most Famous Austrian Painters of All Time

most famous austrian painters of all time

For centuries, Austria has maintained a legacy of celebrated painters who have substantially impacted the art world. Simply put, this European nation is home to a rich history and unique artistic style that is worthy of your time and attention.

1. Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele

  • Birth year: 1890
  • Death year: 1918
  • City of birth: Tulin
  • Art movement: Expressionist
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Expressionist work with sexuality and high intensity 
  • Notable artwork: Self-Portrait, Portrait of Wally

Egon Schiele was an Austrian artist known for his strikingly expressive and figurative works. Though he enrolled at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts at 16, he grew disillusioned with the academy’s conservative teachings and left to join a like-minded group called Neukunstgruppe.

Heavily influenced by Gustav Klimt and Edvard Munch, Egon Schiele quickly became a significant figure within the Expressionist movement. One of his most renowned pieces is Self-Portrait with Physalis, which showcases an elongated figure with exaggerated features and serves as a reminder of the fragility of human existence. 

2. Oskar Kokoschka

Oskar Kokoschka

  • Birth year: 1886
  • Death year: 1980
  • City of birth: Pöchlarn
  • Art movement: Expressionist
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: intense Expressionist landscapes and portraits 
  • Notable artwork: Hans and Erika Tietze, The Tempest

Oscar Kokoschka was an Austrian Expressionist painter known for landscapes and portraits that captured movement and psychological effects. Inspired by Gustav Klimt, he developed a unique style that involved bold colors and expressive brushstrokes. Typically, his works depicted people with distorted features or exaggerated gestures that conveyed anxiety and despair.

One of his most famous creations is The Tempest: a striking piece that symbolizes the tumultuous relationship between Kokoschka and his lover, Alma Mahler. The dramatic composition and innovative approach of The Tempest have left a lasting impression on art to this day. 

3. Hans Makart

Hans Makart

  • Birth year: 1840
  • Death year: 1884
  • City of birth: Salzburg
  • Art movement: Renaissance, Academic
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: sensual, historical, and academic paintings 
  • Notable artwork: The Entry of Charles V into Antwerp, The Five Senses

Often called the “magician of colors,” Hans Makart was one of the most famous Austrian artists during the 19th century. Characterized by their grandiose scale and dramatic compositions, his works have shaped Vienna’s cultural identity and influenced countless individuals, including Gustav Klimt.

After studying at the Vienna Academy under Johann Fischbach and then with Karl von Piloty in Munich, he significantly honed his skills as a painter. One of his most famous works is The Entry of Charles V into Antwerp, which uses a rich color palette and dramatic lighting to capture the triumphant arrival of the emperor after his battle against Protestant armies during the Reformation.

4. Friedrich von Amerling

Friedrich von Amerling

  • Birth year: 1803
  • Death year: 1887
  • City of birth: Vienna
  • Art movement: romanticism
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: elegant portraits 
  • Notable artwork: Lost in Dreams, The Young Eastern Woman

Known for his portraiture, Friedrich von Amerling was one of the most important Austrian painters. After beginning his artistic journey under Hubert Maurer and honing his skills further at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, he developed an exquisite style that incorporated elements from movements like Romanticism and made a name for himself among other contemporary artists.

Inspired by portrait painter Sir Thomas Lawrence, he was widely renowned for his portraits of the aristocracy and courtly life. His work was highly appreciated by critics and patrons during his lifetime and can be found in museums across Europe today. One striking piece is Lost in Dreams, which features a young girl lost in her thoughts and demonstrates the artist’s ability to capture the subject’s emotions and inner world. 

5. Maria Lassnig

Maria Lassnig

  • Birth year: 1919
  • Death year: 2014
  • City of birth: Kappel am Krappfeld
  • Art movement: Expressionism
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: self portraits and theory of body awareness 
  • Notable artwork: Self-Portrait With Guinea Pig, Lady With Brain

Maria Lassnig was an Austrian painter who played a significant role in developing Expressionism and figurative painting. After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna under Wilhelm Dachauer and Herbert Boeckl, this female artist moved to Paris and encountered Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism, which greatly influenced her style. 

Inspired by fellow Austrian artist Egon Schiele’s raw portrayal of human emotions through distorted figures, Lassnig began creating “body awareness” paintings. Self-Portrait With Guinea Pig, one of her most famous works, uses broad brushstrokes to exhibit her profound relationship with her physicality and fondness for creatures of the animal kingdom.

6. Alfred Kubin

Alfred Kubin

  • Birth year: 1877
  • Death year: 1959
  • City of birth: Litoměřice
  • Art movement: Expressionism, Symbolism
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Symbolist and Expressionist work with dark elements 
  • Notable artwork: The Past, Gateway to Hell

Renowned for a distinct style that blended Symbolism and Expressionism, Alfred Kubin was one of the most well known Austrian artists. This Austrian Symbolist painter began his artistic journey at the Munich Academy, where he was exposed to various influences like Art Nouveau and Jugendstil. However, it was artists like Odilon Redon and Max Klinger who had a more profound effect on his work.

One of Kubin’s many phenomenal creations is Gateway to Hell: an eerie piece that showcases his signature style and delves into dark themes like psychological turmoil and the inevitability of death. His unique style and exploration of dark themes have inspired many artists since then, including those involved in the Expressionism movements.

7. Hans Zatzka


  • Birth year: 1859
  • Death year: 1945
  • City of birth: Vienna
  • Art movement: Classical Realism
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: religious themes, mythology, and landscapes 
  • Notable artwork: The Guardian Angel, Swan at the Lake

Hans Zatzka was an Austrian painter known for his incredible depictions of religious themes, mythological scenes, and idyllic landscapes. Remembered as one of the most talented painters of his time, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and quickly gained recognition among fellow students and professors. 

Drawing inspiration from the operas of Richard Wagner, he produced a vast number of intricate paintings that were highly sought after by art collectors worldwide. One stunning example of his artistry is The Guardian Angel: a piece that features an angel watching over a young child, representing the idea that divine beings are always present to protect us.

8. Hermann Nitsch

Hermann Nitsch

  • Birth year: 1938
  • Death year: 2022
  • City of birth: Vienna
  • Art movement: Actionism
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: visceral performance art and abstract paintings 
  • Notable artwork: Poured Painting, Schüttbild

Hermann Nitsch was an Austrian painter, performance artist, and composer best known for his involvement in the Viennese Actionism movement. Drawing influence from Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, and Antonin Artaud, he had a unique artistic vision that characterized ritualistic actions, nudity, life, and death. 

One of his most celebrated pieces is Poured Painting: a wall of aggressively sprayed and smeared red paint that signifies splattered blood. Today, his influence can still be seen in contemporary performance art and modern painting styles that push creative boundaries and explore similar themes.

9. Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Friedensreich Hundertwasser

  • Birth year: 1928
  • Death year: 2000
  • City of birth: Vienna
  • Art movement: Art Nouveau, Magic Realism
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: colorful, abstract work with an emphasis on the environment and architecture
  • Notable artwork: Irinaland Over the Balkans, Right to Create

Known for his unique approach to architecture and environmental art, Friedensreich Hundertwasser was a visionary artist who left an indelible mark on the art world. Inspired by Gustav Klimt, his work was distinguished by its vivid hues, curvilinear forms, and focus on the unity between people and nature. One stunning example is Irinaland Over The Balkans, which uses various colors and patterns to showcase a woman surrounded by scenery.

Although Hundertwasser passed away in 2000, his influence is still felt and honored today. This avant-garde artist’s commitment to environmental conservation has inspired countless individuals worldwide to incorporate ecological themes into their pieces, thus showcasing the enduring impact of his meaningful work.

10. Carl Moll

Carl Moll

  • Birth year: 1861
  • Death year: 1945
  • City of birth: Vienna
  • Art movement: Art Nouveau
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: landscapes, interiors, still lifes, natural light effects 
  • Notable artwork: At the Lunch Table, Autumn Still Life in the Artist’s Studio

Carl Moll played a significant role in the Vienna Secession movement, contributing to the development of modern art within Austria. After beginning his artistic journey at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna under Christian Griepenkerl, he became more interested in capturing interior scenes illuminated by natural light with time.

Moll’s unique style consisted of atmospheric paintings with subtle color gradations and an emphasis on personal expression and experimentation. One of his most notable paintings is At the Lunch Table: a serene look into the daily life of a family. The piece is a testament to Carl Moll’s mastery of light effects and atmospheric compositions, which continue to captivate audiences today.

11. Gottfried Helnwein

Gottfried Helnwein

  • Birth year: 1948
  • Death year: N/A
  • City of birth: Vienna
  • Art movement: Hyperrealism, Performance Art
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: hyperrealistic work based on controversial, emotional topics 
  • Notable artwork: Head of a Child, Boulevard of Broken Dreams

Known for his unique style and controversial subject matter, Gottfried Helnwein is one of the most famous Austrian artists. Influenced by German Expressionism, the Vienna school, and American pop culture, he is widely celebrated worldwide for his contributions to art. 

Generally, his work explores themes of innocence, violence, and power dynamics; incorporates dark humor and political commentary; and depicts a hyperrealistic painting style that blurs the line between reality and fantasy. One of his most recognizable pieces is Boulevard of Broken Dreams, showcasing Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, James Dean, and Elvis Presley sitting together at a bar. 

12. Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller

Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller

  • Birth year: 1793
  • Death year: 1865
  • City of birth: Vienna
  • Art movement: Romanticism
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Realism, Romanticism, portraits, landscapes
  • Notable artwork: The Expected One, The Interrupted Pilgrimage 

Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller was an Austrian painter whose work demonstrated ordinary people doing everyday things. This brilliant artist’s style can be described as fantastic Realism with a touch of Romanticism and consists of portraits and landscapes that depict daily life in Austria during his time.

With an emphasis on simplicity over extravagance and the usage of light to create realistic effects, Waldmüller produced countless gorgeous paintings throughout his career. One of his most notable pieces is The Expected One, which depicts a young woman waiting anxiously for her lover’s return from the sea and captures the emotion of longing through its attention to detail.

13. Ernst Fuchs

Ernst Fuchs

  • Birth year: 1930
  • Death year: 2015
  • City of birth: Vienna
  • Art movement: Surrealism
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: religious and mystical themes, luminous textures and colors 
  • Notable artwork: Transformation of Flesh, Crucifixion 

Ernst Fuchs was an Austrian painter with a long-lasting impact on the art community. He was widely known and celebrated for his intricate, fantastical paintings that often featured religious or mystical themes. Additionally, his work was characterized by its use of bright colors, bold lines, and detailed imagery.

Influenced by the likes of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, Fuchs blended elements from various art movements to break away from tradition and create something entirely new. One of his many breathtaking pieces is Crucifixion, which perfectly represents his signature style: religious themes, vibrant colors, and gorgeous imagery.

14. Johann Dallinger von Dalling

  • Birth year: 1741
  • Death year: 1806
  • City of birth: Vienna
  • Art movement: Realism
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: animals, historical topics, and large-altar works
  • Notable artwork: Kühe, Landschaft

Johann Dallinger von Dalling was an Austrian painter whose work showcased intricate details and a dreamlike quality. Generally, his surreal and otherworldly work featured historical subject matters and animals and often consisted of large-altar pieces. 

One of his most celebrated paintings is Kühe: a gorgeous landscape featuring a range of relaxed animals on a field. His sons, Johann Baptist Dallinger von Dalling and Alexander Johann Dallinger von Dalling, also followed in his footsteps and delved into the world of landscapes and animal-based paintings.

15. Josef Abel

Josef Abel

  • Birth year: 1764
  • Death year: 1818
  • City of birth: Aschach an der Donau
  • Art movement: Realism, Romanticism
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: specialization in historical paintings 
  • Notable artwork: Self-Portrait in the Studio, Gemälde: Der junge Schubert

Josef Abel was one of the key figures in the art scene during his time. This revolutionary Austrian painter and etcher incorporated various historical elements into his work, ultimately displaying the ancient world in groundbreaking ways.

One of his most iconic works is Gemälde: Der junge Schubert, which is said to be a portrait of renowned Austrian composer Franz Schubert. Overall, the artist’s depiction of history and unique techniques have resonated with endless painters looking to express themselves through art.

16. Rudolf von Alt

Rudolf von Alt

  • Birth year: 1812
  • Death year: 1905
  • City of birth: Vienna
  • Art movement: Romanticism
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: watercolors, landscapes, history, architecture  
  • Notable artwork: View of the Stephansdom from Stock im Eisen Platz, View of Salzburg

Rudolf von Alt was an Austrian artist known for his landscape paintings and depictions of architecture. Belonging to a family of artists, he was introduced to the Austrian art world at an early age and gained further inspiration from Romanticism, Realism, and trips across Europe.

Characterized by its attention to detail and authenticity, his work effortlessly captured the beauty of nature and famous landmarks and used stunning light effects to do so. One example is View of Saltzburg, which masterfully captures the essence of the cityscape. 

17. Ernst Klimt

Ernst Klimt

  • Birth year: 1864
  • Death year: 1892
  • City of birth: Vienna
  • Art movement: Symbolism, Art Nouveau, Vienna Secession 
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: decorative and historical work 
  • Notable artwork: Schubert at the Piano, Francesca da Rimini und Paul

Ernst Klimt was a renowned Austrian artist and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. He was the younger brother of Gustav Klimt, who is widely considered one of the most famous painters to come out of Austria.

This decorative and historical painter’s unique style captured complex emotions through art, thus significantly impacting the art world. One of his most famous paintings is Schubert at the Piano, which depicts the man playing piano while surrounded by ethereal figures. 

18. Raoul Hausmann

Raoul Hausmann

  • Birth year: 1886
  • Death year: 1971
  • City of birth: Vienna
  • Art movement: Expressionism, Dada
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: satirical photomontages and inventive collages  
  • Notable artwork: The Art Critic, ABCD

Raoul Hausmann was an Austrian artist whose experimental style profoundly impacted the European Avant-Garde. As one of the most prominent members of the Dada movement, which emerged as a response to the social and political upheaval of World War I, he devoted himself to anti-aesthetic art.

One of his most notable works is The Art Critic, a satirical photomontage with a German banknote choking a man in a suit. Aside from his montages and collages, Hausmann is also known for Mechanical Head: a sculpture featuring an assemblage of mechanical parts that represents the dehumanization caused by industrialization.

19. Richard Gerstl

Richard Gerstl

  • Birth year: 1883
  • Death year: 1908
  • City of birth: Vienna
  • Art movement: Expressionism, Art Nouveau
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Expressionist work with psychologically insightful themes, portraits, landscapes
  • Notable artwork: Nude Self-Portrait With Palette, Mathilde Schönberg

Richard Gerstl was a talented Austrian painter who specialized in psychologically insightful portraits and landscapes with expressive brushstrokes. After studying at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna under Christian Griepenkerl, he rejected the Vienna Secession movement and instead opted for Austrian Expressionism, intending to revolutionize art.

One of his most influential works is Nude Self-Portrait With Palette, which features him standing in front of an easel with a palette and masterfully captures both his physical appearance and emotional state. Though he, unfortunately, committed suicide at 25, his legacy lives on to this day.

20. Josef Mikl

  • Birth year: 1929
  • Death year: 2008
  • City of birth: Vienna
  • Art movement: Abstract
  • Notable characteristics/subject matter: Informal and abstract work, Post-War
  • Notable artwork: Kopf, Abendwind und Biberhahn

Josef Mikl was an awarded painter who served as a critical figure in the development of Austrian art. Known for creating abstract art with bold colors and thick brushstrokes, he was an absolute force to be reckoned with. 

One of his most striking works is Kopf: an amalgam of vivid colors and expressive brushstrokes that creates a tremendous sense of depth and movement within the piece. It is this very mastery of color and form that serves as a testament to Mikl’s immense talent and inspires awe in those who see it every day.  


Austria was home to a plethora of talented artists, each with their own singular artistic vision. Thanks to their innovative styles and techniques, they’ve significantly changed the course of art history as we know it. From Egon Schiele to Josef Mikl, the legendary Austrian painters featured on our list have all played an integral role in the development of art movements, while inspiring fellow artists to this day.