Karl Friedrich Schinkel

Karl Friedrich Schinkel (born March 13, 1781 in Neuruppin, 9th October 1841 dead in Berlin), was one of the most prominent architects of Germany and designed both neoclassical and neogothic buildings. Schinkel was a Prussian master builder, architect, city guide, painter, graphic artist, medalist and stage designer who decisively helped classicism and historicism in Prussia. As head of the superstructure deputy, he was overseen by an auditing department that reviewed almost all state construction projects for the Kingdom of Prussia in an economic, functional and aesthetic sense.

Schinkel was an Oberlandesbaudirektor and architect of the king. Its structures still characterize the cityscape of the center of Berlin. After him, the Schinkelschule was named, which involved several generations of architects who were under his stylistic influence.

Schinkel’s style, in his most productive period, is defined by a turn to Greek rather than Imperial Roman architecture, an attempt to turn away from the style that was linked to the recent French occupiers. He believed that in order to avoid sterility and have a soul, a building must contain elements of the poetic and the past, and have a discourse with them.

Karl Friedrich came as son of Johann Cuno Christoph and Dorothea Schinkel, geb. Rose, born in Neuruppin. He was the second of five children. His father worked as Archidiakon and superintendent of the churches and schools of the circle. Thus, Schinkel grew up in a Protestant vicarage for the first years, until he lost his father at the age of six, who had suffered a fatal pulmonary inflammation in a devastating fire in Neuruppin. Then the family moved to the preacher’s house. In 1794 they moved to Berlin. Schinkel was a student at the Berlinische Gymnasium. He was musically and gifted in drawing, otherwise his school achievements are not worth mentioning. In Berlin the young Friedrich Gilly was regarded as the up-and-coming talent among the German architects. Shortly before, he had looked for Frederick the Great with his memorial design. After attending an exhibition of architectural drawings by Friedrich Gillys, Schinkel’s professional objective was firmly established: he wanted to become a master builder and began drawing early. In 1798, Schinkel left the Gymnasium and became a pupil and close friend of Friedrich Gilly and his father David. From 1798 he visited their private school in Berlin, where he lived, like all other architectural students, at the same time. In 1799 he also enrolled as a student at the newly founded Bauakademie in Berlin. The training was practice oriented. It was only during the winter that she looked at teaching hours and the summer spent the students on the construction site. In addition, Schinkel enriched his education by attending lectures at the Academy of Fine Arts. The duration of his studies is uncertain. As early as 1800, his name does not appear in the directories, this year his mother died. However, Schinkel was one of the first to take the state examinations for the state service and to be awarded the title of construction supervisor or construction site inspector. After the early death of his friend Friedrich Gilly on August 3, 1800, he continued his projects under the leadership of David Gilly, including the classicist castle of Owinsk. On the Pfingstberg in Potsdam he planned the Pomonatempel, it is the first building that was executed.

In 1803, Schinkel undertook his first journey to Italy, whose significance for his artistic career was beyond doubt. He took impressions with his eyes open during the journey and recorded them in sketches, diary records and letters. Numerous landscape drawings and watercolors predominate over pure architectural photographs. At that time he was more than a landscape painter, as an architect, by Joseph Anton Koch and other painters. The outstanding position of painting in Schinkel’s entire life-work can be seen in the fact that he later devoted itself to painting, as the duties as architect grew ever greater. In the end, painting and architecture can not be separated sharply in his work.

In his pictures one can see the architect and in his buildings the painter. On his educational journey he stayed for weeks in Dresden, Prague and Vienna, as well as in Trieste and other old Adriatic towns. When he and his travel companion, Johann Gottfried Steinmeyer, the later architect of Putbus, once witnessed a piquant scene in the neighboring room in a hostel, Schinkel preached “peace and excitement” as the “noblest of man”. He came to Rome via Venice, Padua, Ferrara, Bologna, Florence and Siena. There he met Wilhelm von Humboldt and won him a friend. In April 1804 he went on to Naples and mounted Vesuvius. He regarded a three-month trip to Sicily as the coronation of his journey. He also made numerous drawings and sketches of landscapes or architectural impressions there. The return journey took him to Paris via Pisa, Livorno, Genoa, Milan, Turin and Lyon, where he arrived in December 1804 and visited, among other places, the Bonaparte’s booty at the Musee Napoleon. In 1805, Schinkel returned to Berlin via Strasbourg, Frankfurt, and Weimar.

After the defeat against the French in the battle of Jena and Auerstedt, it was not possible in Prussia to carry out major construction projects. Schinkel had a dual role as a painter and architect. This shaped the character of his paintings, which he now created, and which are often centered on utopian and ideal urban landscapes. From 1807 to 1815 he painted panoramas and dioramas for Wilhelm Ernst Gropius (1765-1852), who had a café in Schinkel’s former dwelling-house and had a mask factory and figure-theater since 1806. His son, Karl Wilhelm Gropius, the decorator, publisher, showman and from 1820 royal theater inspector, also belonged to Schinkel’s circle of acquaintances. In the Berlin occupied by French troops, Schinkel showed the first panoramic observers in 1807, including Constantinople and Jerusalem. The panorama of Palermo was particularly successful in 1808. When Frederick William III, the king of the fleet, had fled before Napoleon. And Luise returned from East Prussia in December 1809, Schinkel showed him a new panorama. On 17 August 1809 Schinkel entered the marriage with Susanne Berger, the daughter of a Stettiner wine merchant. The closing took place in the St. Jacobi Church. Together they had four children: Marie (* 1810), Susanne (* 1811), Karl Raphael (* 1813) and Elisabeth (* 1822).

On the occasion of the mediation of Wilhelm von Humboldt, Schinkel received a position in 1810 as a deputy for artistic questions and then as a secret superintendent at the Berlin Oberbaudeputation. For the Berlin city palace he designed the interior of the rooms of Queen Luise. Together with Clemens Brentano, with whom he formed an inseparable friendship, he visited Count Hermann von Pückler-Muskau in 1811. At that time he lived for a short time in the house with the 99 sheep heads. He was appointed a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts. For Christmas, Schinkel presented the Panoramabild The Brand of Moscow, which had not taken place until the same year. On March 13, 1813, he was asked to design the Iron Cross according to a sketch of the king. After the reign of March 10, 1813, which had been reintroduced to Queen Luise’s birthday, it was to be solemn for the liberation war, since the subjugation by Napoleon and the flight of the royal parade from Berlin had been an iron age. It was the first prize in Prussia, which could be granted to every man for his bravery without regard for his rank. In 1814, Schinkel replaced the laurel wreath trophies of Schadow’s Quadriga on the Brandenburg Gate by an Iron Cross, crowned with an eagle, to celebrate the return of the sculpture to Paris and the victory over the Napoleonic troops. There was always a new edition of the Iron Cross and still today it is the emblem of the Bundeswehr. In 1814 Schinkel moved to Friedrichstraße. In the academy exhibition he showed the oil paintings Schloss am See and Altan with a distant view. As a panorama for Christmas, he created two views of the island of Elba, where Napoleon was first banished. After the death of Paul Ludwig Simons In 1815, he was appointed secret superintendent and was finally able to devote himself to his real profession, architecture. In this position, he was not only responsible for transforming Berlin into a representative capital for Prussia, but also for projects in the Prussian territories from the Rhineland in the west to Königsberg in the east. After the Napoleonic wars, a tight state fund had to be used to find inexpensive solutions for the massive construction tasks.

From 1815, Schinkel realized important government buildings such as the Königswache, the Schauspielhaus and the Alte Museum. He also appeared as a reviewer. In January 1816 Mozart’s Zauberflöte was performed with Schinkel’s stage pictures. Together with his wife Susanne and their daughter Marie, he traveled to Weimar to attend Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Among other things, he produced several expert reports on the Cologne Cathedral, which he had met in 1816 on a trip as a ruinous torso, and who inspired him so much that he was committed to saving the surviving and advanced. The importance of painting for his work as an architect can be seen in the fact that Schinkel wanted to shape the surroundings of the Cologne Cathedral according to his own painting, which he had created three years earlier. Later, he pleaded against decay and demolition of historical buildings and ordered the erection of memorial records. The theater on the Gendarmenmarkt burned almost completely on 29 July 1817. The architect Carl Ferdinand Langhans submitted blueprints for the reconstruction, but these were not endorsed. From 1818 it was then built according to the plans of Schinkel. Together with Christian Daniel Rauch and Christian Friedrich Tieck, he visited Goethe in 1820.

The oil painting on the river was built. Schinkel was appointed professor of architecture and became a member of the Senate of the Academy of Arts in Berlin. He did not give lectures, but took only examinations and judged in juries as jurors. From 1819 to 1840 he published 28 copies of his collection of architectonic designs with a total of 174 large-format drawings engraved in copper. In these books one can also see the plans for his so-called architectural textbook. Schinkel did not want to write a hermetically finished textbook as it was falsely reconstructed after his death from his estate, but responded dynamically and flexibly to every new building task.

Together with his family, Schinkel traveled to Stettin in summer for five weeks. He also spent a week on Ruegen. At Cologne Cathedral he produced a detailed report. From 1822 to 1837 Schinkel, together with Christian Peter Wilhelm Beuth, gave the role models for manufacturers and craftsmen. This elaborate work, with large-scale copper engravings, was an extensive collection of illustrations of forms and patterns, which were predominantly oriental. It should contribute to the unity of usefulness and beauty in consumer goods as an aesthetic orientation aid for commercial schools and producers and to promote the beginning industrialization of Prussia. Schinkel moved to his new home Unter den Linden 4a. On 17 August 1822 his daughter Elisabeth was born. In 1823, Crown Prince Frederick William was given a gift to his wedding at Schloss Stolzenfels on the Rhine. Schinkel designed the first plans for the conversion. In 1824 he went on a mission to Italy to collect information on the arrangement of works of art in museums. He had been commissioned by Minister Karl vom Stein to the Old Stone to make his journey directly connected with the museum building and the collection set-up in Berlin. His travel companions were on this second trip to Italy, Gustav Friedrich Waagen, the chief financial officer August Kerll (1782-1855) and the court medalist Henri-François Brandt (1789-1845). In a letter at the end of the journey, Schinkel complained to his wife about the jokes of Brandt, who had become “trivial.” “Except for some fun he did us, he did not use us, but we did.” On the way back, he visited Goethe again in Weimar. In 1825 Schinkel painted his last important painting look in Greece’s bloom. The youngest daughter of King Luise received it as a present for the wedding with Prince Friedrich of the Netherlands. He began his plans for Charlottenhof Palace, the Potsdamer Kirche St. Nikolai and the Town Hall in Kolberg in 1826. He also undertook a trip lasting several months on France to England and Scotland with his friend Beuth, the promoter of Prussian industrialization Architecture and comparatively advanced engineering. He has extensively documented the impressions of this journey in diary entries, letters and sketches. For the 7th edition of the Brockhaus Encyclopaedia in 1827, he himself wrote the article Schinkel (Karl Friedrich). It is his only autobiography.

New Year’s Eve In 1828, Schinkel was invited to the palace of Prince Carl of Prussia for a celebration, and the King also took part. From the end of July to September 1830, Schinkel traveled with his family through Switzerland to Milan and Venice. In September the foundation was laid for the Nikolaikirche in Potsdam. On 23 October, the King visited the church of Friedrichswerder. In the stairs of the Alte Museum, a bust of Schinkel, designed by Tieck, was put on the 27th of November. On 16 December, he was promoted to the secret Oberbaudrektor and director of the Oberbaudeputation as successor to Johann Albert Eytelwein. The superstructure deputation was a revision department that assessed all the state construction projects for the Kingdom of Prussia, which exceeded 500 talers, in an economic, functional and aesthetic way. At the same time, Schinkel kept to revise all the designs, which led to a stylistic optimization of public buildings throughout Prussia. The Schinkel style became fashionable. For a long time, he had felt a lot of strain on his health. For the first time, he went to Marianske Lazne in 1831, and numerous other spa stays followed. For a palace on the Acropolis of Athens, Schinkel made a suggestion in 1834 with extensive plans and drawings. Together with his wife Susanne, he undertook a mission in the summer of 1835, which led him to Ruegen. There, the married couple in the lighthouse on Kap Arkona. In 1836 they moved into the new apartment on the upper floor of the Berlin Bauakademie. He designed the plans for the castle and the church of Erdmannsdorf, which he dealt with very intensively. On a mission to Silesia, he took the whole family, a cure in the Bohemian baths and Bad Gastein joined. In 1838, Schinkel was appointed Oberlandesbaudirektor, so he was the architect of the king at the height of his builder’s career. He designed Orianda Castle in Crimea, which was never built. In the same year Franz Kugler published the first monograph on him. In September, he produced his last report on the construction of the Cologne Cathedral. On the birthday of the Crown Prince on October 18, 1838, the foundation stone for Kamenz Castle was laid.

Since the late 1830s, Schinkel’s health has been weakened. In a letter to Princess Marianne, he mentioned his bad health in 1839. When he went by train to Potsdam in the spring of 1840, he suffered a paralysis of his right hand. In July, he was in Bad Gastein for the cure and found frightened that his smell was getting worse and in the end completely extinguished. After the death of the king he neglected the coronation celebrations of Frederick William IV, which he regarded as an insult. At a last meeting a few sarcastic words were heard, according to which the king simply left him alone. In September 1840, Schinkel probably had several strokes with a half-paralysis on the right, as well as a visual and speech disorder. After a one-year-long illness, he died in his office in the Bauakademie in Berlin. The autopsy revealed severe arteriosclerosis of the cerebral vessels as the cause of his stroke. On 12 October 1841 he was buried. His Ehrengrab in the cemetery of the Dorotheenstädtischen and Friedrichswerder municipalities is in the department CAL G1. It carries as a jewelry a portrait medallion manufactured by August Kiss. King Friedrich Wilhelm IV bought the artistic estate for a museum in 1842. In his apartment on the second floor of the Berlin Bauakademie, the first Schinkel Museum was set up at the King’s initiative. It was there from 1844 to 1873 and was regarded as the forerunner of later art museums. Today, as a Schinkelmuseum, the Friedrichswerder Church, built by him, is known, including an exhibition on his life and work. Schinkel’s style-building work in Prussia led to a design tradition, which was called retrospect, as Schinkelschule, through his famous pupils, Ludwig Persius and Friedrich August Stüler.

Schinkel was not only the classical Stararchitekt of the Kingdom of Prussia, he also performed in the fields of interior architecture, design and painting. He was influenced by the fine-minded classicism of his teacher, Friedrich Gilly, which was related to the French revolutionary architecture. Its clear language of form is, with its departure from the concave and convex, vibrating, overburden facades of the Baroque, in accordance with the Prussian Enlightenment. The work of The Architects James Stuart and Nicholas Revett, published in 1762, had a great influence on Schinkel and his contemporaries. The shape, mass, detail, and use of ancient elements are now no longer exclusively dependent on the architect’s talent and imagination. If, for example, the Doric column is still on a foundation at Carl Gotthard Langhans’ Brandenburger Tor of 1788, Schinkel renounces it on the basis of his knowledge of ancient sites. Its most famous buildings can be found in Berlin and Potsdam. Among the highlights of his work is the Schauspielhaus (1819-1821) on the Gendarmenmarkt, which replaced an older theater destroyed in 1817 by the fire. After the partial destruction in the Second World War, the building was reconstructed in the 1980s. The most important buildings are the Old Museum; It was the first public museum in Berlin and completed the pleasure garden opposite the royal castle. This was based on a draft, which he had developed together with his close friend, the Oberbaurat and later director of the Bauakademie Johann Carl Ludwig Schmid. In 1821, he drew a draft for the construction of the Sing Academy in Berlin, which was approved, but was rejected because of the high costs for a design by Carl Theodor Ottmer. As early as 1812 Schinkel, who was a friend of the Sing-Akademie Director Carl Friedrich Zelter, was appointed honorary member of the Zelterian Liedertafel in 1813, and whose wife sang in the Choir of the Sing-Akademie, designed the concert hall at the Royal Academy of Arts, Which, however, had not been carried out. In 1825, he was commissioned by King Friedrich Wilhelm III. The so-called Normalkirche of Schinkel, in which his first church building, the church of St. Nicolai, completed a year earlier, served as a model in the Magdeburg New Town. The simple classicist arch construction was built to save costs in villages like Lütte and small towns of Prussia. Between 1827 and 1828 he designed one of the first department stores for a location Unter den Linden, however, like many of his great ideas was not realized.

The Rococo and the English Baroque were already imitating the Gothic style. However, this tendency was only strengthened by the influence of Romanticism at the beginning of the 19th century. The neo-gothic style points back to the Middle Ages, to enlighten this historical epoch as a golden age and extend it into the present. In addition to his classical buildings, Schinkel also revived the Gothic language of forms and thus attacked historicism and eclecticism. The young Schinkel recognized a connection between the Gothic and nature as the haven of freedom. The gothic appears as a random and free architecture. Nature appears free because it is not exposed to social access. The same essential features and the same categories of works are projected onto Gothic and nature. Criticism of nature is shown in the Gothic. Landscape and natural forms are described as gothic architectural forms. The young Schinkel saw an antagonism between free Gothicism and the appropriate classicist style. In Gothic architecture, subjective freedom concretizes itself, in classicism an objective necessity and a categorical ought arising from it.

Ehrenburg Castle in Coburg belonged to it in 1810 to its first Gothic-oriented designs. Schinkel designed the castles of the neo-Gothic neo-Gothic war memorial for the Kreuzberg in Berlin in 1818. Schinkel had designed three different designs for the Friedrichswerder church in 1821: a classical, a gothic and a Renaissance version. The gothic version was then approved. Schinkel established gothic forms and unclad clinkers as exterior material. It is the first sight-seeing religious building since the Middle Ages. Among his most innovative buildings is the Bauakademie (1832-1836), designed by Emil Flaminius, which had a future-oriented structural structure and also a bare clinker façade with many artistic relief panels made of terracotta. With her functional simplicity, she influenced whole generations of architects to the Bauhaus. With her, Schinkel developed an independent form-language. It is regarded as the building of Schinkel, which most clearly points to the future and is to be regarded as the main activity of his technicism.

Schinkel’s importance lies not only in architectural designs for the buildings that were actually built, but also in his theoretical work. These include in particular the unfinished plans for the reconstruction of the Athenian Acropolis into a royal palace and for the erection of the Orianda Palace in the Crimea. These were published in his collection of architectural designs (1820-1837) and his works of higher architecture (1840-1842, 1845-1846). Schinkel’s plans for a royal palace on the Acropolis, which he had commissioned by the Prussian Crown Prince for King Otto I of Greece in 1834, would have led to a complete reconstruction of the castle by an antique palace architecture. The ruins of Parthenon, Propylaea, Erechtheum and Nike temple should be integrated into the gardens decoratively. The plans were critically criticized as “summer nights” from the point of view of the monument protection of Leo von Klenze, and the acropolis was declared the exclusive field of activity of archaeologists. Schinkel had received the order for Schloss Orianda in 1838 from Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, who wanted a palace in the warm climate of the Crimea. It was to be built on the shores of the Black Sea in the classical style.

With an inexhaustible imagination, Schinkel drew a dream castle instead of a simple summer residency: a portico with caryatids on the front terrace gives the view to the sea clear. Tiled columns and water games are in the courtyard. A temple-like pavilion is planned for the courtyard center, under which a mighty vault should be placed. As a thank-you, Schinkel received a mother-of-pearl can from the Tsarina.

In addition to his numerous buildings, Schinkel also created works as painters, stage designers, interior designers and designers. In his pictures, he developed partial architectural solutions, which he later realized in his buildings. In the Berlin art exhibition of 1810, where the painting The Monk by the Sea by Caspar David Friedrich was shown, Schinkel exhibited the lithography Gothic cathedral behind trees. In 1811 Schinkel accepted the Berlin Royal Prussian Academy of Arts as its member. In 1813/14, he painted six panel paintings for the silk manufacturer Jean Paul Humbert for a hall in his Berlin house Brüderstraße 29. It was his greatest commission as a painter. He gained fame with his stage pictures as part of a reform of the Berlin theater, as in 1816, for example, in Mozart’s Magic Flute, which was partly used in contemporary productions. For the National Theater at the Gendarmenmarkt, he designed stage sets for a total of 42 pieces until 1832. His masterpiece as a painter he created with the designs for the murals program of the Old Museum in Berlin. In this monumental picture cycle, he developed a synthesis of gothic and classical style. Schinkel was thus occupied from 1823 until his death. His last large-format painting look in Greek bloom from the year 1825 idealizes the antique architecture. For royal palaces and landscapes, Schinkel designed the interior architecture and numerous furniture. These works are well preserved in Charlottenhof Palace and in the New Pavilion. Garden furniture made of cast iron according to his designs are still produced today. The Royal Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin (“KPM”) also produces some designs, such as the vases “Fidibus”, “Trumpet Form”, the second “sugar basket” and the “Schinkelkorb”.