Carl Spitzweg (also Karl Spitzweg) was born on February, 1808, in Unterpfaffenhofen, Bavaria. In 1825, he successfully completed his education at the humanistic Gymnasium. He then studied pharmacy at the university in Munich. Spitzweg finished his studies with distinction in 1832.
Because of a drawn out illness, he gave up his career and dedicated himself to painting from then on. Spitzweg copied paintings in the "Alte Pinakothek" in Munich and maintained friendships with painters such as Christian Morgenstern, Eduard Schleich the Elder, Dietrich Langko, and Friedrich Voltz. He became a member of the Art Association of Munich in 1835. He sold his first paintings in 1837. He gained inspiration on his numerous educational journeys to Salzburg, Bozen, Meran, Venice und Dalmatia, among other places.
Carl Spitzweg began a lasting friendship with Moritz von Schwind in 1847. Together with Schwind, he visited the World Fair in Paris in 1851. While subsequently visiting London in that year, he was fascinated by the works of John Constable and William Turner. He started seeing some success in 1860.
Carl Spitzweg received the Bavarian Royal Merit Order of St. Michael in 1865. He was inducted as an honorary member of the Academy of Visual Arts in 1868, though he had never attended an art academy himself. Beginning in 1844, he produced many humoristic pictures in the "Fliegende Blätter." In this small format work, he represented the world of the German everyman with loving humor and indulgence as the Biedermeier ideal of "the good ole days." The work which best represents his technical sophistication and unmistakable style is "Der arme Poet" ("The Poor Poet") from 1839.
Carl Spitzweg died on September 23, 1885, in Munich.