The German painter Karl Theodor von Piloty was born in Munich on October 1, 1826. He was taught by his father Ferdinand von Piloty (1786-1844). His younger brother, Ferdinand von Piloty (1828-1895) was also a painter. The younger brother painted monumental murals, which can today be seen at the Bavarian Nationalmuseum, at the Munich Maximilianeum, in the Landsberg am Lech city hall and in Neuschwanstein castle.
After his school education, Karl Theodor von Piloty went to the Munich academy, where he studied under Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld in 1840. Karl Theodor von Piloty went on study trips to Brussels, Antwerp and Paris, and intensively studied the coloration and realism of Franco-Belgian history paintings. He was decisively influenced by the works of Louis Gallaits and Paul Delaroches.
From 1856 Karl Theodor von Piloty worked at the Munich "Akademie der Bildenden Künste" as a professor and became its head in 1874. He was an ambitious teacher, who taught artists like Franz von Lenbach, Franz Defregger, Rudolf Epp and Hans Makart.
Karl Theodor von Piloty became famous for his large-format history paintings showing emotional scenes and is known as a pioneer of the "Gründerzeit" painting style from the period of industrial expansion in Germany.
Karl Theodor von Piloty died in Ambach at Lake Starnberger See on July 21, 1886. His monumental painting "Allegorie Monachia" was reopened to the public in the "Großer Rathaussaal" of the Munich city hall on September 20, 2004. The piece is 15.30 by 4.60 meters large and known as Bavaria's largest painting. It depicts 128 people from the history of Munich, while expressly leaving out the Wittelsbach family. Hung in the Munich city hall on July 21, 1879, it was put into storage in 1952. The painting's restoration in 2000 took 4 years and cost approximately 500,000 euros.