(Neustadt/today Bergneustadt 1864 – Munich 1932)
Alexander Köster was born in Bergneustadt as the son of a stocking manufacturer and, according to his parents' wishes, trained as a pharmacist at the age of 18. In 1885 he enrolled at the Karlsruhe Academy and studied art with Karl Hoff and Claus Meyer.
Köster went on study trips to the Black Forest, the Vosges, Munich and Tyrol. Many of his sketches were made while hiking through the Inn and Ötztal valleys. Portrait painting was a welcome source of income for Alexander Köster during his student days, whereby his personal interest was more genre painting and the painting of atmospheric landscapes.
In Tyrol, Köster met his future wife Isabella, and the two married in 1893. After finishing his studies, in 1896, Köster moved entirely to Klausen, his wife's hometown. There he devoted himself increasingly to landscape painting and discovered the duck as a painting and study object. These birds fascinated him so much that he carefully studied their anatomy and behavior. Köster became a true duck expert and his duck portraits soon found great approval. The Darmstadt Academy offered him a position, but he declined, preferring to work as a freelance artist.
Alexander Köster also took up a studio in Munich in order to be able to devote himself to the Upper Bavarian landscapes, which he did, especially in summer. Apart from the ducks, he was most fascinated by the play of light and shadow on the water. From 1908 onwards he traveled to Lake Constance more often and painted the large expanse of water in different weather moods.
In 1915, due to the unrest caused by the First World War, which drove him out of Klausen, he set up a small studio on Lake Ammersee. Another stroke of fate was the death of Köster's son in the war. Alexander Köster now also increasingly painted still lifes with flowers and riverbank landscapes, but the ducks were the most important aspect of his oeuvre until his death.
During his artist's life, Köster's painting developed from a very realistic representation in the 1890s to the increasingly generous and freer formal language of the Impressionists. His late work is characterized by coarse and strong brushstrokes. Alexander Köster took part in numerous exhibitions and was a member of the Munich artists' cooperative. After the presentation of his first duck pictures in Berlin in 1899, he was also known under the name "Enten-Köster" (“Duck-Köster”). His duck paintings are the painter's most sought-after works on the art market, and the number of ducks is always specified precisely because it also determines the price.
Today there are paintings by Alexander Köster in museums in Graz, Munich, Chemnitz, Dessau and Breslau, with the largest part of Köster's estate being in the new Pinakothek in Munich.