Daniel Chodowiecki

Daniel Niklaus Chodowiecki (Oct 16, 1726 – Feb 7, 1801) was a Polish – German painter and printmaker with Huguenot ancestry, who is most famous as an etcher He spent most of his life in Berlin, and became the director of the Berlin Academy of Art

Chodowiecki came from an originally noble family, who lived in Great Poland until 1550, while his mother was of Swiss Huguenot origin He was the son of Gdansk grain wholesaler Gottfried Chodowiecki and his wife Marie Henriette Ayrer His grandfather Christian, born in 1655, was also a merchant In Gdansk The miniature painter Gottfried Chodowiecki was his brother After the death of his father In 1740 Chodowiecki began a commercial apprenticeship

In 1743 he came to Berlin in the quincailerie business of his uncle Antoine Ayrer Chodowiecki drew and designed there fashion jewelry Ayrer also arranged for an artistic training and taught his nephews Daniel and Gottfried of the Augsburger Johann Jakob Haid in enamel painting From 1754, the Chodowiecki brothers were self-employed as miniature and enamel painters During this time Chodowiecki was also a student of the artists Bernhard Rode and Johann Heinrich Meil

One year later Chodowiecki married Johanna Marie (1728-1785), the daughter of the Huguenot silk embroiderer Jean Barez from Amsterdam This marriage bound Chodowiecki to the French community in Berlin, where he was very committed The couple had six daughters and three Sons Louis Guilleaume (1765-1805) became a painter and engraver, Henri Isaac († 1831) became a pastor at the French-reformed church in Potsdam in 1805 at the age of 37 Susanne Henry became a painter

In the almanacs and calendars of the time, Chodowiecki was the first to succeed as an illustrator Later, his engravings became famous all over the world Chodowiecki illustrated not only works by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller or the title pages for the children’s friend of Christian Felix Weiße In addition, his illustrations are also used in the translations of the bestsellers of Oliver Goldsmith, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and Tobias Smollett, as well as the works of Johann Bernhard Basedow, Johann Timotheus Hermes and Christian Gotthilf Salzmann

This enormous work (almost 2300 etchings) could only be done by Chodowiecki with a workshop in which he could delegate a lot For him worked some of the best copper cutters, erasers and miniature painters of the country The building sculpture at the French cathedral in Berlin goes back to designs Chodowiecki with his few The artist had only moderate success

From 1764, Chodowiecki was a member of the Royal Prussian Academy of Arts, who had fallen into stagnation during the reign of the frugal “soldier king” Friedrich Wilhelm I and his almost exclusively French-oriented son and successor, Frederick II Chodowiecki struggled energetically to support changes in 1783 He appointed the appointment of his friend Bernhard Rode as the director of the academy This year, he also formulated his ideas about the nature of the academy: “Academie is a word which means an assembly of artists who meet at a certain place, In order to learn about each other’s art, to share their experiences, to learn one from the other, to try to approach each other with perfection “In 1783 Chodowiecki advanced to the secretary of the academy and was thus for the academic exhibitions to He was a rector from 1786 to 1789, and from 1789 to 1797 he was a director of the academy of 1790 From 1797 to 1801, after Rodes’s death and until his death, he led the academy as director

He lived in Berlin from 1755 at Brüderstraße and later at Behrenstraße 31 At the age of 74, Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki died on 7 February 1801 in Berlin His last retirement was in the cemetery of the French-Reformed parish in Berlin His grave is an Ehrengrab Dedicated to the city of Berlin In Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg the Chodowiecki street is named after him

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe greatly appreciated the artist and described him in his maxims and reflections as “a very respectable and we say ideal artist, well known for his drawings and small engravings, depicting scenes of bourgeois life In the circle in which he did not work “In poetry and truth, on the occasion of the Nicolaean transcription, the pleasures of young value:” This brochure soon came into our hands The most delicate vignette of Chodowiecki made me Much pleasure, as I reverenced this artist ”

The Kunstforum Ostdeutsche Galerie is a research center dedicated to Daniel Chodowiecki

Soon Daniel was able to earn a living by painting He was admitted to the Berlin Academy in 1764 and became vice-director under Bernhard Rode in 1788 He had found his true calling and became the most famous German graphic artist of his time His works includes several thousand etchings, usually rather small, and many drawings and paintings His book illustrations embrace almost all the great classics His prints represent in great detail the life of the bourgeoisie during the Zopfstil period, a time between Rococo and Classicism In 1797 Chodowiecki was appointed director of the Academy of Arts in Berlin, where he died on 7 February 1801 The bulk of his work was in illustrating scientific books by Basedow, Buffon, Lavater, Pestalozzi and others He also painted many portraits of Polish gentry and was interested in Huguenot and Polish history as well, making some paintings on the topic He was in tune with the developing spirit of the age, and many works reflect the cult of sensibility, and then the revolutionary and German nationalist feelings of the end of the century

In printmaking, he is credited with the invention of the deliberate remarque, a small sketch on a plate, lying outside the main image These were originally little sketches or doodles by artists, not really meant to be seen, but Chodowiecki turned them into “bonus items” for collectors

Chodowiecki, though speaking only French and German (due to his offices in the Huguenot French community in Berlin he often spoke French), many times also declared his Polish allegiance and had his son Isaac Heinrich, born in Berlin, painted as a very young child with a Polish outfit and haircut After Partitions of Poland Chodowiecki wrote to Gräfin Solms-Laubach: “From father’s side I’m Polish, a descendant of a brave nation which will soon vanish” In a letter to Józef Łęcki, the Polish astronomer, he wrote: “I consider it an honour to be a genuine Pole, even though I am now living in Germany” Because of his mother’s and his wife’s Huguenot descent he was very close to the Huguenots of Berlin Nearly all his life and career was spent in Germany, writing in German and living in Berlin from the age of almost 17

One of his most popular books is “Journey from Berlin to Danzig” (German: “Die Reise von Berlin nach Danzig”, 1773) with many illustrations He purchased a horse rather than going by stage coach This was his first return after 30 years absence and he went specifically to see his elderly mother and sisters in Danzig again He made only one more trip to Danzig afterwards, to his mother’s funeral He describes and illustrates towns and people in Pomerania and Prussia on the way

Chodowiecki is buried at the Französischer Friedhof cemetery in Berlin

Works:
The Wochenstube, 1770
Johann Wilhelm Bernhard of Hymmen (1725-1787)
Hans Joachim of Zieten, 1775
Ex libris of the artist, Kupferstich, 1760
Chodowiecki and his family
Brandenburg Gate
The Barez, Chodowiecki mother-in-law