Brilliant German sculptor whose best masterpieces adorn the squares of many German cities
Ernst Rietschel (December 15, 1804 February 21, 1861) the famous German sculptor of the XIX century, one of the brightest representatives of neoclassicism in European fine arts. Ernst Richel is best known for the creation of monumental monuments to outstanding compatriots, installed in different cities of Germany. The work of the master was highly appreciated at home and abroad. During his lifetime he was elected a full member of many European art academies. The artist’s biography is closely connected with Dresden, where he lived most of his life.
Ernst Richel is not one of the most prolific figures in sculpture. He worked on his masterpieces for years, paying great attention to the careful study of the smallest details of the composition and achieving a striking resemblance of heroes to real historical figures.
Biography of Ernst Richel
Ernst Richel was born on December 15, 1804 in the small town of Pulsnitz near Dresden in the family of a craftsman. The boy showed early aptitude for art, and while still at school, he began to take private drawing lessons from a local artist. His father dreamed that his son would continue his work, but young Ernst chose the career of a professional sculptor and in 1820 entered the Dresden Academy of Arts, in the workshop of Franz Pettrich.
After graduating from a prestigious educational institution in 1826, the young sculptor left for Berlin, where he continued his studies at the studio of Christian Daniel Rauch, with whom he subsequently maintained friendly relations for many years. Soon Richel created his first independent sculptural masterpiece the figure of the sea god Neptune for the market fountain in Nordhausen, for which he was awarded the Roman Prize of the National Academy of Arts.
But Ernst did not immediately go to Italy, but decided to postpone this trip for several years. At first, he enthusiastically helped his mentor to carry out important orders, and in 1828 he organized his own small workshop, but did not achieve much success in the competition with more famous colleagues.
Therefore, in 1830 Ernst Richel left Berlin and went to Rome, where he stayed for about six months, and then returned to Dresden. Here he was offered to build a monument to the recently deceased King of Saxony Friedrich August I (Friedrich August I). Brilliantly fulfilling this important order, the young artist made a strong impression on the royal family, and soon received an invitation to take the position of professor of sculpture at the Dresden Academy.
Ernst Richel turned out to be a very successful mentor and brought up many worthy students, among whom the names can be distinguished:
- Adolf von Donndorf;
- Johannes Schilling;
- Gustav Adolph Kietz.
The sculptor’s family life, even at a stretch, cannot be called happy. The first time he married in 1832, Albertine Trautscholdt, who bore him two daughters, but died three years after the wedding. The artist’s second wife, Charlotte Carus, gave him a son and died suddenly in May 1835, just a year and a half after the official registration of the marriage.
With his third wife, Marie Hand, Ernst lived together for six years and they had three more children two sons and a daughter. But this marriage ended with the death of his wife. And only the fourth wife, with whom the sculptor officially formalized the relationship in April 1852, survived him by 40 years. In the last marriage, Richel had another daughter. And in total he became the father of three boys and four girls, two of whom died in infancy.
Numerous descendants of the artist still meet annually on the days of death and birth of the great ancestor to pay tribute to him.
Among them there are many outstanding creative personalities, including:
- actor and director Christopher Buchholz;
- children’s book author and illustrator Jörg Hilbert;
- writer Susanne Falk (Susanne Falk).
But many tragic events in family life did not prevent Ernst Richel from achieving impressive success in his professional career. Before reaching the age of 30, he became an authoritative professor at the academy and a very popular sculptor. The artist was literally overwhelmed with orders and received generous payment for his work. He bought a spacious mansion on the outskirts of Dresden and set up a studio in it, where dozens of assistants worked.
Richel constantly received offers from different cities of Germany with a request to make monuments to famous compatriots. His masterpieces still adorn the squares of Berlin and Dresden, Weimar and Leipzig, Potsdam and Braunschweig, Worms and Washington. The brilliant artist was elected an honorary member of many European art academies, including the French. Belgian, Swedish, Danish and Italian.
Unfortunately, the great master did not differ in good health and for many years suffered from a serious lung disease. Despite the efforts of the best doctors in Europe, his life was very short. On February 21, 1861, Ernst Friedrich August Richel died in Dresden at the age of 56 and was buried in the Trinitatisfriedhof cemetery.
The most famous works of Ernst Richel
The great German sculptor has created many wonderful works of art during his life. Nevertheless, the most famous works of Ernst Richel are considered:
- The Neptune Fountain at Nordhausen (1828) is a sculptural composition for which the author was awarded the prestigious Roman Prize. The ancient Roman god with a trident in his hand still greets visitors in the park of an ancient German city.
- Monument to Lessing in Braunschweig (1853) a bronze monument on a granite pedestal, installed in the homeland of the great German poet. For this masterpiece, the sculptor was awarded a gold medal at the Paris Exhibition of 1855.
- Monument to Goethe and Schiller in Weimar (1856) a monument that adorns the square in front of the local theater. Both great writers lived most of their lives in Weimar and are buried here.
- The Monument to Martin Luther in Worms (1858) is a grandiose sculptural masterpiece, consisting of 12 individual figures and covering an area of 100 square meters. The world’s largest monument to the great German leader of the Reformation.
Ernst Richel gave the descendants many great masterpieces of sculptural art. He managed to overcome difficulties in his personal life with honor. Brought up many worthy students and left a noticeable mark on the history of European culture.