Born Feb. 24 (Mar. 8), 1826, in Vastemöisa, in present-day Viljandi Raion, Estonian SSR; died Apr. 10 (22), 1899, in St. Petersburg. Estonian painter; founder of the Estonian national school of painting.
Köler studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts (1848–55) with A. T. Markov. From 1857 to 1862 he studied and worked in the countries of Western Europe, mainly in Italy. From 1862 he lived in St. Petersburg. Most of his work consisted of portraits, some informal (for example, the artist’s mother, c. 1863–64; E. von Schultz-Adajewsky, 1868; both in the Art Museum of the Estonian SSR in Tallinn) and others formal. He also painted a number of pictures on religious and mythological subjects (some of which dealt with ideas of national liberation in allegorical form—for example, Awakening From an Enchanted Sleep, 1864, a study in the Art Museum of the Estonian SSR in Tallinn), landscapes and genre paintings in the spirit of academic painting of the second half of the 19th century.