The art society Der Düsseldorfer Malkasten was founded on 11 August 1848. Two-thirds of the artists who joined the society were also members of the Verein der Düsseldorfer Künstler zu gegenseitiger Unterstützung und Hilfe, and the two societies very soon merged. The motto of the society was Wie alle Farben in unserem Malkasten friedlich bei einander liegen, so sollen auch in dem neuen Verein aale Farben unserer Künstlerschaft einträchtlich vereinigt sein (like all the colors in our paintbox lying peacefully together, so shall all the colors of our artist community be harmoniously united in our new society), but the Malkasten (paintbox) did not have a purely social function; it was also concerned with political issues. They were, for example, involved in discussions with the government in Frankfurt which led to the founding of the Nationalgalerie, and also the establishment of the Kunsthalle in Düsseldorf.
In addition to representing the decorative arts, the society also organized music, dance and theatre events, with frequent performances from the Künstlerliedertafel.