(b Stockholm, Feb 19, 1751; d Chester, DE, Oct 5, 1811).
Swedish painter, active also in France, Spain and the USA. He was trained in sculpture and painting at the Stockholm Academy and was a student of Joseph-Marie Vien in Paris (1772–5) and Rome (1775–9). In 1781 he settled in Paris, painting Ariadne on the Shore of Naxos (1783; Stockholm, Nmus.), a meticulously executed Neo-classical work. He became a member of the French Academy in 1784 and First Painter to Gustavus III of Sweden. The latter commissioned him in 1784 to paint the massive Marie Antoinette and her two Children Walking in the Trianon Gardens (Stockholm, Nmus.). Wertmüller’s most interesting work, Danaë and the Shower of Gold (1787; Stockholm, Nmus.), a masterpiece of mythological portrayal, is the foremost example of Swedish Neo-classical painting.
A lack of portrait commissions in Paris prompted Wertmüller in 1788 to go and work for wealthy merchants in Bordeaux, Madrid and Cadiz. His career as a portrait painter proceeded successfully; his portraits display an unsentimental and cool, smooth style. In ...