I want to contrast Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (1793-1865) who was the most important Viennese painter of the Biedermeier era. Waldmüller was a little older that the Englishmen, but he too flourished in mid century. His paintings were also detailed and complex narrative tales, set in rather ordinary settings, but Waldmüller was no mere observer and commentator on modern life. He specifically extolled the health-giving qualities of rural life, and the moral virtues of family life.
There was of course a big difference between Victorian Britain and Biedermeier Vienna. The Austrian Empire was ruled by tough, secret intelligence agencies. Lodges, clubs and societies were shut down; members were imprisoned. This effectively forced people from the coffee houses and meeting halls into the privacy of their homes. Private life and social contacts were restricted to a circle of true and reliable friends. Bourgeois geniality and charm were celebrated; poverty, disease and an omnipresent police force were not!
CorpusChristi Morn, 1857, Belvedere
Joy of Motherhood, 1857, 54 × 42 cm, Neue Galerie Vienna
Grandmother's Birthday, 1856, 72 x 58 cm
We may find sentimentality in art unacceptable these days, but Waldmüller understood the dire consequences of political comment in Biedermeier Vienna.