The epithet Nazarene was adopted by a group of early 19th-century German Romantic painters who aimed to revive spirituality in art. The name Nazarene came from a term of derision used against them for their affectation of a biblical manner of clothing and hair style.
In 1809, six students at the Vienna Academy formed an artistic cooperative in Vienna called the Brotherhood of St. Luke or Lukasbund, following a common name for medieval guilds of painters. In 1810 four of them, Johann Friedrich Overbeck, Franz Pforr, Ludwig Vogel and Johann Konrad Hottinger (1788-1827) moved to Rome, where they occupied the abandoned monastery of San Isidoro. They were joined by Philipp Veit, Peter von Cornelius, Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow and a loose grouping of other German-speaking artists. They met up with Austrian romantic landscape artist Joseph Anton Koch (1768–1839) who became an unofficial tutor to the group. In 1827 they were joined by Joseph von Führich (1800–1876).
The principal motivation of the Nazarenes was a reaction against Neoclassicism and the routine art education of the academy system. They hoped to return to art that embodied spiritual values, and sought inspiration in artists of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, rejecting what they saw as the superficial virtuosity of later art.
In Rome the group lived a semi-monastic existence as a way of re-creating the nature of the medieval artist's workshop. Religious subjects dominated their output, and two major commissions allowed them to attempt a revival of the medieval art of fresco painting. The first was a fresco series completed in Rome for the Casa Bartholdy (1816–17; moved to the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin), a collaborative project by the Nazarenes that "marks the beginnng of the revival of fresco decoration for private and public buildings".  This, and a second commission to decorate the Casino Massimo (1817–1829), gained international attention for the work of the "Nazarenes". However, by 1830 all except Overbeck had returned to Germany and the group had disbanded. Many Nazarenes became influential teachers in German art academies.
The programme of the Nazarenes—the adoption of what they called honest expression in art and the inspiration of artists before Raphael—was to exert considerable influence in Germany, and in England upon the Pre-Raphaelite movement.  They were also direct influences on the British artists William Dyce and Frederick Leighton and Ford Madox Brown. 
Philipp Veit was a German Romantic painter and one of the main exponents of the Nazarene movement. It is to Veit that the credit of having been the first to revive the nearly forgotten technique of fresco painting is due.
German Romanticism was the dominant intellectual movement of German-speaking countries in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, influencing philosophy, aesthetics, literature, and criticism. Compared to English Romanticism, the German variety developed relatively early, and, in the opening years, coincided with Weimar Classicism (1772–1805). In contrast to the seriousness of English Romanticism, the German variety of Romanticism notably valued wit, humour, and beauty.
Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld was a German painter, chiefly of Biblical subjects. As a young man he associated with the painters of the Nazarene movement who revived the florid Renaissance style in religious art. He is remembered for his extensive Picture Bible, and his designs for stained glass windows in cathedrals.
Peter von Cornelius was a German painter; one of the main representatives of the Nazarene movement.
Friedrich Wilhelm von Schadow was a German Romantic painter.
Johann Friedrich Overbeck was a German painter. As a member of the Nazarene movement, he also made four etchings.
Joseph von Führich was an Austrian painter, one of the Nazarenes.
Franz Pforr was a painter of the German Nazarene movement.
The Neue Pinakothek is an art museum in Munich, Germany. Its focus is European Art of the 18th and 19th centuries, and it is one of the most important museums of art of the nineteenth century in the world. Together with the Alte Pinakothek and the Pinakothek der Moderne, it is part of Munich's "Kunstareal".
German art has a long and distinguished tradition in the visual arts, from the earliest known work of figurative art to its current output of contemporary art.
Jakob Ludwig Salomon Bartholdy was a Prussian diplomat and art patron.
Johann Gottlob von Quandt was a German artist, art scholar, and collector.
Georg Ludwig Vogel was a Swiss history painter, associated with the Nazarene movement.
Veit Hanns Friedrich Schnorr von Carolsfeld was a German portraitist.
Ludwig Ferdinand Schnorr von Carolsfeld was a German Romantic painter, engraver and lithographer.
Franz Johann Heinrich Nadorp, was a German painter who primarily worked and lived in Rome.
Johann Heinrich Ferdinand Olivier (1785–1841) was a German painter associated with the Nazarene movement.
Woldemar Friedrich von Olivier was a German history painter in the Romantic style, often associated with the Nazarene movement.
Vittoria Candida Rosa Caldoni was an Italian artists' model. She was the most popular model among the German artists residing in Rome in the early nineteenth-century; especially those associated with the Nazarene movement. Over 100 paintings with her image have survived.
Immanuel Christian Leberecht von Ampach was a German collegiate church councillor, canon in Naumburg, and Dean of the collegiate chapter in Wurzen. He is best remembered as a coin collector and patron of the arts.