In 1806, he moved with his mother to Kassel, where he received his first drawing lessons. They returned to Berlin in 1813 and he took up a six-year apprenticeship at the Royal Porcelain Factory. Although many artists had begun their careers at the Factory, he felt that the instruction provided was superficial and took drawing classes at the Academy of Arts.
In 1821, he accepted a position as a decorative painter in the studios of Carl Wilhelm Gropius, the Royal Court Theater painter, where he remained until 1825. During this time, he became increasingly attracted to architectural painting. He was able to finance a study trip to Paris by selling a portrait of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia to the Royal family. While there, he acquired more skill in the manipulation of light and atmosphere, and was inspired by the magnificent vistas of Medieval buildings to devote himself almost entirely to painting vedute.