Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.


(năz`ərēnz), group of German artists of the early 19th cent., who attempted to revive Christian art. In 1809, J. F. Overbeck and Franz Pforr formed an art cooperative in Vienna called the Brotherhood of St. Luke. The group moved to Rome and established themselves in a disused monastery. They were joined by Philipp Veit, Peter von Cornelius, Schnorr von Carolsfeld, and Schadow-Godenhaus. They lived simply, devoting the mornings to household tasks and the afternoons to painting. Many of them collaborated on the frescoes in the Casa Bartholdy (1816–17; now in Berlin) and the Casino Massimo (1822–32, Rome). Using early Italian and late medieval German pictures as models, they worked within the limits of religious dogma and not from nature. Although their paintings were uncomfortably composed, poorly colored, and lacking in imagination, the Nazarenes exerted considerable influence in Germany and in England upon the Pre-RaphaelitesPre-Raphaelites
, brotherhood of English painters and poets formed in 1848 in protest against what they saw as the low standards and decadence of British art. The principal founders were D. G. Rossetti, W.
..... Click the link for more information.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an ironic name given to the German and Austrian artists who were members of the Lukasbrüder (Brotherhood of St. Luke), a group organized in 1809 in Vienna. Beginning in 1810 the Nazarenes, who included F. Overbeck, F. Pforr, P. von Cornelius, W. von Schadow, J. Schnorr von Carolsfeld, P. Veit, and J. A. Koch, worked in Rome, where they occupied the abandoned San Isidoro Monastery and lived in the manner of a medieval religious commune.

Opposed to late international classicism, the Nazarenes sought to revive religious mural art in the spirit of the Middle Ages and the Early Renaissance. They strove to reflect the religious and traditional illusions typical of the conservative followers of German romanticism. Choosing the works of A. Dürer and Perugino, as well as the early works of Raphael, as their principal models, they strayed increasingly from nature, lost their ties with contemporary life, and rather quickly adopted a dry and cold type of abstract stylization, which was essentially in harmony with academic traditions.

Besides painting individual pictures, the Nazarenes collaborated with one another on fresco cycles dealing with biblical subjects (frescoes in the Bartholdi House, 1816–17; now in the National Gallery, Berlin) and with scenes from Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered (Casino Massimo, Rome, 1819–30).

The Nazarenes made their most significant artistic contribution to portraiture and landscape painting. Their portraits and landscapes were based more on direct observations of nature. In the 1820’s and the 1830’s most of the Nazarenes returned home to positions at the academy and at court.


Gröschel, G. Die Nazarener und ihre Beziehungen zur altdeutschen Malerei. [Munich] 1937.
Verbeck-Cardauns, H. Die Lukasbriider, Kempen, 1947.



(1) A religious sect in Russia that formed in the 1840’s and 1850’s among the Transcaucasian Molokans, of which it was an offshoot. The Nazarenes also interpreted the Bible allegorically but more consistently than the Molokans; they repudiated church rites. In the early 20th century they merged with the Molokans.

(2) Jewish Christians were also called Nazarenes. The word in this sense was even used in the Koran.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
He grows fangs and claws, his ears become pointed, and he no longer carries himself in the "proud erect style" of the disciples of Christianity, satirically labeled "Nazarene apprentices" (39).
In The Free-Lance Pallbearers, Reed does not employ the full meaning of duppy, but, as a code embedded in the comic sound of the proagonist's name, Bukka Doopeyduk, it is everywhere present, emphasizing the wrongheadedness of Doopeyduk's unswerving support of the Nazarene cause.
He astutely assesses the administrative impact of Nazarene polity on the denominational missions.