Gabriel Cornelius Max (1840-1915) descended from an artistic Czech family: his father Josef and his paternal uncle Emanuel were sculptors. In preparation for his creative career, the young Gabriel attended the Academy of Arts in Prague, the city of his birth. He continued his artistic studies, until the age of 23, in Vienna at its Academy of Art. A final move, this time to Munich, allowed Max to participate in the Munich Royal Academy of the Fine Arts, where professor Karl Theodor von Piloty captured Max's attention until 1867. About that time, Max painted Martyr at the Cross (also known as the Crucifixion of St Julie), which was his first notice by art critics. The early influence of Piloty and his dark palette on Max's work faded after about 1870, as Max emerged into his own styles of painting, which included religious-themed work tinged with eroticism and the faintly satirical paintings full of simian symbolism. Max evolved from an eclectic art student to a teacher, holding a professorship in historical painting at the Munich Academy. He opened an art school, became involved in several philosophical and semireligious societies, and delved into spiritualism, mysticism, and Darwinism. Because much of his work tended toward the mystical, Max has been designated by art scholars as a pre-Symbolist artist, foreshadowing the Symbolist style of painters Gustave Moreau and Odilon Redon (JAMA cover, April 21, 1999).
Torpy JM. The Botanists (Die Botaniker). JAMA. 2009;301(13):1318. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.318