When the young Adolfo Müller, from a Roman Catholic family, studying at the public school in Sarnen, displayed artistic ability, the obvious place to send him to study painting in 1879 was the well-known Swiss religious painter based in nearby Stans, Melchior-Paul von Deschwanden, who painted in a sweet Nazarene style having himself trained in Munich under Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld. Deschwanden had sent his pictures across Europe; examples were even sent to the United States and were hung, for example, in churches in Annapolis, Maryland and Covington, Kentucky. Deschwanden taught Adolfo the rudiments of oil painting, and naturally he copied Deschwanden’s works as well as those by his other pupils. Many of these works survive in the Stiftung Muller-Ury and elsewhere. Deschwanden died in Adolfo’s arms in February 1881 and so the artist’s father sent the teenage painter to the Munich Academy. The young artist continued to paint religious pictures, and would do so throughout his career, but inevitably his focus was changed.
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