MÜLLER, Niklas

MÜLLER, Niklas (Nikolaus). Mainz 6.5.1770 (not 14.5.) — Mainz 14.6.1851. Germain Painter and Scholar. Son of shopkeeper Johann M. and Katharina Erlenbach. Studies at Mainz University, graduated 1788. Worked as theatre painter, accepted with enthusiasm the ideas of French Revolution. In 1793-94 studies in Paris, now became interested in India. Then in Strassburg and Landau, from 1798 again in Mainz, worked as tutor and painter and from 1802 as schoolteacher. From 1805 also Conservator of the Town Collection of Paintings, and kept both positions also when Mainz was annexed to Hessen in 1814. Married 1801 Marianne Fachinger (divorce 1826), then 1837 Anna Maria Achenbach, three sons and two daughters with the first wife.

Although committing many serious errors, with his “Brahmantike”, this autodidact scholar was capable of evaluating Indian art much better than his prejudiced contemporaries.

Publications: Glauben, Wissen und Kunst der alten Hindus in ursprünglicher Gestalt und im Gewande der Symbolik, mit vergleichenden Seitenblicken auf die Symbolmythe der berühmteren Völker der alten Welt, mit hierher gehörigen Literatur und linguistik. 1. 30+631 p. Mainz 1822, repr. Leipzig 1968 (the 2nd vol. never appeared).

Mithras. Eine vergleichende Uebersicht der berühmteren mithrischen Denkmäler und Erklärung des Ursprungs und der Sinndeute ihrer Symbole. 15+152 p. Wb. 1831.

Die sieben letzten Kurfürsten von Mainz und ihre Zeit. 436 p. Mainz 1846; poetry and dramas.

Sources: *H. Kucharski, “N.M. – erster Mittler indischer Kunst in Deutschland”, Buddhist Yearly 1966, 9-18; H. Kucharski, “Nachwort” in the 1968 edition of Müller’s book, i-ix; *E. Leser, A.D.B. 22, 1885, 655; G. Rösch, N.D.B. 18, 1997, 460f.; German Wikipedia with portrait.

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