(27 September 1630 - 26 August 1706) was a German painter. The Baroque artist became known as the "Silesian Raphael".
Willmann was born in Königsberg, Duchy of Prussia. He was educated by his father, the painter, Christian Peter Willmann. Michael went to the Dutch Republic in 1650 to learn from the masters, and he was inspired by the works of Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, and Anthony van Dyck. For financial reasons he was unable to afford studying at the studio of a well-known painter.
After two years in the Netherlands, mostly spent in Amsterdam, Willmann returned to Königsberg, passed his master's examination, and began to travel. After visiting Danzig, Willmann went to Prague, where he stayed from 1653-55. He then spent about a year in Breslau. Willmann's first known paintings, commissioned by Abbot Arnold Freiberger of the Abbatia Lubensis abbey in Leubus, Lower Silesia, date from 1656. Leubus became the setting of much of Willmann's creativity.
From 1657-58 Willmann was in Berlin as the court painter of Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg. He painted mythological scenes for the elector, presumably for his residence at Königsberg Castle. In 1660 Willmann returned to Leubus, which allowed him a large workshop.
Willmann's workship, modeled after those of the Dutch painters, quickly spread his fame. The extensive studio included his son Michael Leopold Willmann the Younger, his daughter Anna Elisabeth, and Anna Elisabeth's husband Christian Neuenhertz and son Georg Wilhelm Neunhertz. Willmann's studio also counted Johann Kretschmer from Glogau, Johann Jacob Eybelwieser from Breslau, the Cistercian Jacob Arlet from Gressau, and Willmann's stepson Johann Christoph Lischka.
Willmann became the leading painter of Silesia through his expressiveness, technical dexterity, and speed. Willmann worked on orders from the patriciate of Breslau, as well as churches and monasteries throughout Silesia, Bohemia, and Moravia. He received contracts for the Cistercian monasteries in Gressau, Heinrichau, Kamenz, Rauden, and Himmelwitz. With the assistance of his students and assistants, Willmann produced 500 paintings and frescos during his life. Numerous drawings of Willmann's were later used by engravers.