Johann Wilhelm Preyer, a distinguished exponent of the Düsseldorf School of painting, was one of the few of that school to specialise in still lifes. From 1822 Preyer studied at the renowned Düsseldorf Academy, at first under Peter von Cornelius and later under Wilhelm von Schadow until 1931.
Johann Wilhelm Preyer showed work at Berlin Academy exhibitions from 1830 and went to the Netherlands in 1935. Preyer went to Munich in 1837, accompanied by his brother Gustav and his friends Johann Peter Hasenclever and Theodor Janssen. There Johann Wilhelm Preyer did several of his best still lifes and was so successful that King Ludwig I of Bavaria bought one of his paintings. From Munich Johann Wilhelm Preyer and his two friends travelled frequently to Italy and Switzerland.
In 1848 Preyer founded the "Malkasten" Artists' Association in Düsseldorf, where he stayed for the rest of his life. Johann Wilhelm Preyer is the most important 19th-century German painter of still lifes with fruit and ensured the genre unprecedented success. Executed with the precision of the Old Masters, Preyer's work has been highly prized abroad and especially in the US.