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The Nazarener Group was formed in 1809 by Overbeck, Vogel, Hottinger and Pfoor in Rome. This semi-religious order was called "Lukasbruder" (the Brotherhood of Saint Luke). The purpose of the group was to renew German religious art by imitating works of artists such as Durer, Perugino and Raphael as a young artist. The artists established their group at the deserted monastery of Saint Isidoro.

Cornelius, Schadow, Veit, Carolsfeld, Fuhrich and the art historian Johann David Passavant and other artists soon joined them. Some of them artists converted to Catholicism, hence the nickname of "Nazarenes"; however they were not called Nazarenes until after they had left the monastery. Some of the frescoes that the artists worked on together were painted between 1816 and 1817 and are now in Berlin at the Staatliche Museen. As well, one of their commissions was to decorate the Casino Massimo in Rome, that was started in 1817 and was partly done by Koch.

Many other frescoes were completed by the group with such subjects as "Recognition of Joseph by His Brothers" (Cornelius); themes from Dante's "Divine Comedy" (Koch); and Overbeck's "Preparation for the Siege of Jerusalem" (completed between 1823 and 1825. Although the group was very successful in its production of murals, it soon disbanded. Overbeck left Rome to go to Germany. The group's ideas were not only known in England, but were also very admired by artists such as Dyce. The group was an influence on some of the Pre-Raphaelite artists and other artists such as Ingres. Art historians place the Nazarenes' ideas as the primary examples of the German Romantic movement.

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