German sculptor who was not recognized in his homeland for a long time and was considered too Italian
Adolf von Hildebrand (Adolf Ritter von Hildebrand; October 6, 1847 January 18, 1921) a famous German sculptor of the second half of the XIX early XX centuries, an outstanding representative of academicism. Adolf von Hildebrand was a very versatile creative person; in addition to sculpture, he was fond of architecture, painting, graphics and medalism. His work was highly appreciated by his contemporaries, and the Bavarian king in 1904 bestowed the knighthood on the master for his merits. The artist’s biography is full of numerous travels in Europe; he spent a significant part of his life outside Germany.
Adolf von Hildebrand was also a respected art theorist, and his fundamental work Das Problem der Form in der Bildenden Kunst, first published in 1892, has since been translated into dozens of foreign languages. Among the disciples of the artist, two of his sons-in-law should be especially noted Theodor Georgii and Carl Sattler, who later became famous sculptors.
Biography of Adolf von Hildebrand
Adolf Hildebrand was born on October 6, 1847 in Marburg, located in the historic center of Germany. His father Bruno was an outstanding German economist and politician, and on the mother’s side the ancestors of the future artist had Jewish roots. Adolf was the fifth of eight children in the family, his older brother Rudolf later, like his father, became a famous economist, and the younger Otto became a professor of surgery at the University of Berlin.
Hildebrand Sr. was actively involved in politics for many years, so the family moved frequently. Adolf began his studies at the school in Kassel, continued in Zurich and Bern, and graduated in Jena, where his father for the last 13 years of his life was the rector of the prestigious Friedrich Schiller University (Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller).
After completing his secondary education, Adolf Hildebrand entered the Nürberg Art School, and then continued his studies at the Munich Academy of Arts, where he was mentored by the outstanding German sculptor Caspar von Zumbusch. After completing his studies, the young artist left for Italy in 1867, where he was deeply impressed by the work of the best masters of antiquity and the Renaissance.
Soon, together with a group of like-minded people, he founded the “Roman Circle” (Römischer Kreis), which also included:
- Konrad Fiedler
- Hans von Marées
- Arnold Böcklin;
- Anselm von Feuerbach.
The members of this creative association urged their colleagues to abandon decadent sentiments in favor of the true values of ancient art. But their ideas were negatively perceived in the German artistic environment, as a result of which Hildebrand did not return to his homeland until the end of the 1880s.
Having visited France and Austria at the junction of 1860-70s, Adolf then settled in Florence for a long time. Here he created many sculptures, as well as successfully engaged in the manufacture of frescoes and city fountains. In 1877, Adolf Hildebrand married Irene Scheufelen with whom he lived happily until his death. In marriage, he had five daughters and a son. The eldest daughter of the master Eva later became an artist, Irene a sculptor, and his only son Dietrich an authoritative philosopher and theologian.
Gradually, the attitude towards the artist’s work in Germany changed
And in 1898 he decided to return to his homeland forever. Hildebrand personally designed his own house in Munich, which today is called the Hildebrandhaus, and moved with his family there. A luxurious mansion in the capital of Bavaria, built in the style of the late Renaissance, for many years became an influential center of communication for the Munich elite. Regular guests of the Hildebrand family were members of the royal family, writers, artists, composers and philosophers from different parts of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
In recognition of his outstanding services at the end of his life, the artist was awarded the title of knight, and since then the aristocratic prefix “von” has been added to his surname. Having survived the hardships of the First World War and the collapse of the German Empire, Adolf von Hildebrand died on January 18, 1921 in his luxurious home with his family. The grave of the great master is still located at the Oberföring cemetery, located in the north-east of Munich.
The most famous works of Adolf von Hildebrand
The genius German sculptor has created many wonderful works during his long creative career. And yet, some of the most famous works of Adolf von Hildebrand include:
- The Wittelsbacher Fountain in Munich (1895) is a classicist masterpiece by the great master, destroyed during World War II and completely restored by the artist’s son-in-law Theodor George in 1952. In this monumental work, the author in an allegorical form embodied the power of the element of water, its destructive and fertile power.
- The Hildebrandhaus (1898) is the artist’s most famous architectural masterpiece, which he worked on for nine years. The building, built in the Renaissance style, served as a home, studio and luxury residence for the owner to receive numerous guests.
- The Father-Rhine fountain (1897-1903) is a monumental work dedicated to an ancient deity the guardian of the most famous German river. Initially, the fountain was located in Strasbourg, but after the loss of Alsace by Germany as a result of the First World War, it was completely dismantled and re-installed in Munich.
- The Bismarck Monument in Bremen (1910) is the only monument in the world with the image of the Iron Chancellor on horseback. The armored rider sits on a six-meter stone plinth in the center of one of the oldest German cities, next to the cathedral.