1902 Encyclopedia > Schadow

Distinguished family of artists in Germany

SCHADOW, a distinguished name in the annals of German art.

I. JOHANN GOTTFRIED SCHADOW (1764-1850), an eminent sculptor, was born in 1764 in Berlin, where his father was a poor tailor. His first teacher was an inferior sculptor, Tassaert, patronized by Frederick the Great; the master offered his daughter in marriage, but the pupil preferred to elope with a girl to Vienna, and the father-in-law not only condoned the offence but furnished money wherewith to visit Italy. The young man made the most of advantages which in those days fell to the lot of few: he gained in competition a prize for a group of Perseus and Andromeda; three years' study in Rome formed his style, and in 1788 he returned to Berlin to succeed his former master, Tassaert, as sculptor to the court and secretary to the Academy. Prussia in rising into a great kingdom had need for much sculpture, and Schadow brought timely talent and exceptional training. Over half a century, crowded with commissions, he persistently produced upwards of two hundred works, varied in style as in subjects. Among his ambitious efforts are Frederick the Great in Stettin, Blucher in Rostock, and Luther in Wittenberg. His portrait statues include Frederick the Great playing the flute, and the crown-princess Louise and her sister. His busts, which reach a total of more than one hundred, comprise seventeen colossal heads in the Walhalla, Ratisbon; from the life were modelled Goethe, Wieland, and Fichte. Of church monuments and memorial works thirty are enumerated; yet Schadow hardly ranks among Christian sculptors. He is claimed by classicists and idealists: the quadriga on the Brandenburger Thor and the allegorical frieze on the facade of the Royal Mint, both in Berlin, are judged among the happiest growths from the antique. Fauns, nymphs, cupids, and figures of fancy, scattered among plain portrait work, kept alive to an advanced age early associations formed in Italy. Schadow, as director of the Berlin Academy, gave proof of intellectual powers which made him a leader and secured many and devoted followers. Personal influence he extended and fortified by his books. He wrote on the proportions of the human figure, on national physiognomy, &c.; and many volumes by himself and others describe and illustrate his method and his work. He died, full of honours, at Berlin in 1850.

II. RUDOLPH SCHADOW (1786-1822), sculptor, son of the preceding, was born in Rome in 1786. His father, who returned to Berlin in 1788, was his first master. Rudolph in 1810 obtained the pension for Rome and received kindly help from Canova and Thorwaldsen. His talents were versatile: his first independent work was a figure of Paris, and it had for its companion a spinning girl. Following the example set by leading German artists then settled in Rome, he exchanged the Protestant for the Catholic faith, and gave pledge of his convictions by statues of John the Baptist and of the Virgin and Child. In England he became known by bas-reliefs executed for the duke of Devonshire and for the marquis of Lansdowne. His last composition, commissioned by the king of Prussia, was a colossal group, Achilles with the Body of Penthesilea; the model, universally admired for its antique character and the largeness of its style, had not been carried out in marble when in 1822 the artist died in Rome.

III. FRIEDRICH WILHELM SCHADOW (1789-1862), painter, born in 1789 in Berlin, was the second son of Johann Gottfried Schadow the sculptor, from whom he received his earliest instruction. In 1806-7 he served as a soldier; in 1810 he went with his elder brother Rudolph to Rome. He became one of the leaders among the German pre-Raphaelite brethren who eschewed classicism and the Italian Renaissance and sought to rebuild Christian art on the principles and practice of early and purer times. Following the example of Overbeck and others, he joined the Catholic Church, and held that an artist must believe and live out the truths he essays to paint. The sequel showed that Schadow was qualified to shine less as a painter than as a teacher and director. The Prussian consul, General Bartholdi, befriended his young compatriots by giving them a commission to decorate with frescos a room 24 feet square in his house on the Pincian Hill. The artists engaged were Schadow, Cornelius, Overbeck, and Veit; the subject selected was the story of Joseph and his brethren, and two scenes, the Bloody Coat and Joseph in Prison, fell to the lot of Schadow, These well-studied and sound wall-paintings brought re- nown to the brethren, who were further fortified by the friendship of Niebuhr and Bunsen; the former writes— "They are all men of talent," and "Schadow is particularly refined and intellectual." Schadow was in 1819 appointed professor in the Berlin Academy, and his ability and thorough training gained devoted disciples. To this period belong pictures for churches. In 1826 the professor was made director of the Dusseldorf Academy, and so highly were his character and teachings esteemed that some of the hest scholars accompanied their master. The high and sacred art matured in Rome Schadow transplanted to Düsseldorf; he reorganized the Academy, which in a few years grew famous as a centre of Christian art to which pupils flocked from all sides. In 1837 the director selected, at request, those of his scholars best qualified to decorate the chapel of St Apollinaris on the Rhine with frescos, which when finished were accepted as the fullest and purest manifestation of the Düsseldorf school on its spiritual side. To 1842 belong the Wise and Foolish Virgins, in the Städel Institute, Frankfort; this large and important picture is carefully considered and wrought, but lacks power. Schadow's fame indeed rests less on his own creations than on the school he formed; he imparted to others nobility of conception, beauty of form, refinement and delicacy in expression and execution. Yet the master in Düsseldorf encountered opposition: a reaction set in against the spiritual and sacerdotal style he had established; a younger generation rose who stigmatized his system as narrow and bigoted; and in 1859 the party of naturalism and realism after a severe struggle drove the venerable director from his chair. Schadow died at Düsseldorf in 1862, and a monument in the platz which bears his name was raised at the jubilee held to commemorate his directorate. (J. B. A.)

The above article was written by: J. Bravington Atkinson.

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