Paul Troger was an Austrian painter, draughtsman and printmaker of the late Baroque period. Troger's illusionistic ceiling paintings in fresco are notable for their dramatic vitality of movement and their palette of light colors.
Paul Troger’s style, particularly in his frescoes, dominated Austrian painting until the end of the 18th century and profoundly influenced significant artists of the next generation, notably Franz Anton Maulbertsch, Josef Ignaz Mildorfer, Johann Wenzel Bergl and Johann Lucas Kracker.
Paul Troger was born on 30 October 1698 in Welsberg, in the Puster Valley of the County of Tyrol. At the age of 16, under the patronage of the aristocratic Tyrolean von Firmian family, he visited Fiume and became a pupil of Giuseppe Alberti. He painted his first fresco “Three Angels with the Cross and Putti”, in the Kalvarienkirche, Kaltern (1722).
In 1722, the prince-bishop of Gurk sent Paul Troger to Venice, where he discovered the works of Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, and Giovanni Battista Pittoni. Troger also studied in Rome with Sebastiano Ricci, in Naples with Francesco Solimena and in Bologna, the leading artistic centers of Italy at the time. On his return to Austria, Troger first worked in Salzburg from 1726 to 1728, where he painted the "Glory of Saint Cajetan" on the ceiling of St. Cajetan’s Church, Salzburg (1728). He afterwards established himself in Vienna, where the art of ceiling frescoes was, however, dominated by Johann Michael Rottmayr and Daniel Gran.
Paul Troger became the favourite fresco painter in Lower Austrian monasteries in collaboration with the architect Josef Munggenast. In 1753, he joined the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts. Troger became professor and was made director of the Imperial Academy in 1754. His most prominent student was Franz Anton Maulbertsch. His most important contribution to Austrian painting was to reject the strong dark palette, typical of the beginning of the 18th century, in favor of an increasingly lighter palette, typical of the new Rococo taste.
Although he did many easel altar paintings and drawings, Paul Troger became famous for his frescoes and much in demand throughout the Austrian lands. Troger's frescoes are remarkable for their immense vitality of movement and their light colors.