The author of the world famous sculptural composition that adorns the Brandenburg Gate
Johann Gottfried Schadow (May 20, 1764 January 27, 1850) is a famous German sculptor of the late 18th early 19th centuries, an outstanding master of the classical style. Johann Gottfried Schadov was also an authoritative teacher, cartoonist and engraver, was fond of chess and historical sciences. The artist’s work was highly appreciated by his contemporaries; during his lifetime he was elected a member of many European art academies, including Paris, Vienna, Munich and Brussels. The master’s biography is closely connected with the German capital, where he lived most of his life.
Johann Gottfried Schadov is the founder of the Berlin School of Sculpture, and there are many talented artists among his students. In addition, the children of the master made a significant contribution to German art: his two sons Friedrich (Friedrich Wilhelm von Schadow) and Felix (Felix Schadow) became painters, and the third, Rudolf Schadow, like his father, became a professional sculptor.
Biography of Johann Gottfried Shadov
Johann Gottfried Schadov was born on May 20, 1764 in Berlin. He was the eldest of five children in the family of an artisan, and the ancestors of the future artist came from simple German peasants. From childhood, the boy was fond of art and already at the age of twelve he began attending private lessons on the basics of drawing with the artist Giovanni Battista Selvin. And two years later, he was enrolled in the Academy of Arts and became a student of Jean-Pierre-Antoine Tassaert (Jean-Pierre-Antoine Tassaert).
An experienced mentor, who worked not only as a professor, but also as a court sculptor for the King of Prussia, immediately drew attention to Shadov. Tassar sincerely fell in love with his best student and really wanted the talented young man to become his son-in-law, but these plans were not destined to come true. Johann fell passionately in love with a Jewish Catholic girl, Marianne Devidels, and at the end of the winter of 1785 left Vienna with her to meet her parents and receive their blessing for marriage.
The father of the artist’s beloved was a wealthy Viennese jeweler, he liked the groom and the future father-in-law gave the lovers a substantial amount of money for a trip to Italy. Having visited Venice and Florence on the way, Johann and Marianne reached Rome in the summer of the same year, where they lived for about two years. During this time, Shadov met many Italian colleagues and closely studied the work of ancient masters, and also created several wonderful sculptural works.
Immediately after arriving in the capital of Italy, the couple got married, and for this Johann Shadov, who was a hereditary Lutheran, had to convert to the Catholic faith. With his first wife, the sculptor lived happily in marriage for 30 years, until her untimely death in 1815, and both of their sons later became famous artists.
Returning to Berlin in 1787, the master was surprised to find that he had problems with getting a job in the civil service. To get a job as an artist at the Royal Porcelain Manufactory, he had to convert again to the Lutheran faith, which, however, did not become a problem for him. Despite past grievances, Tassar warmly welcomed his beloved disciple and personally recommended him to the Prussian king.
Thanks to the patronage of his teacher, Johann Schadov became a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts in January 1788, and in the fall he was appointed court sculptor, taking the place of the deceased Tassar. Until the end of the 18th century, he acquired the fame of the best German sculptor, which accompanied him until his death.
The talented sculptor never again lacked orders, he was often entrusted with the implementation of the most ambitious state projects. Shadov enthusiastically engaged in creativity: he created tombstones, busts, as well as monumental compositions intended for installation in public places in German cities.
In 1803, Johann Gottfried Schadov became one of the co-founders of the Berlin Chess Club and later took an active part in the activities of this organization. Two years later, the sculptor was appointed deputy director of the Academy of Arts and settled with his wife and children in a luxurious spacious house built at public expense.
In 1814, Shadov founded the Berlin School of Sculpture and became its first head, and two years later he headed the National Academy of Arts. In the interval between these two significant events, the sculptor experienced a bitter loss his first wife died. But the 49-year-old artist steadfastly survived this test and in 1817 he married a second time to Caroline Henrietta Rosenstil, who bore him four more children.
In 1839, the 75-year-old sculptor submitted a letter of resignation from the position of director of the academy due to serious health problems, but was unexpectedly refused. The Prussian king preferred to leave the authoritative master at the head of the institution, at least formally, and entrusted a deputy with most of his duties.
Shortly before his death, the artist managed to write his memoirs, but his life path was rapidly approaching the end. On January 27, 1850, Johann Gottfried Schadov passed away, surrounded by his family, in a luxurious Berlin mansion. His body was interred in the Dorotheenstadt cemetery, and a few years later a monument by Heinrich Kaehler was erected on the grave.
The most famous works of Johann Gottfried Shadov
The genius sculptor has created many magnificent masterpieces of art during his long life. And yet, the most famous works of Johann Gottfried Shadov are:
- The tombstone of the tomb of Alexander Mark (1789) is a wonderful composition that adorns the burial place of the illegitimate son of the Prussian king who died in early childhood. This work should be done by the teacher of the sculptor Tassar, but he died and the responsible order was entrusted to Shadov.
- The Quadriga of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin (1793) is a world famous sculptural composition depicting a two-wheeled chariot drawn by four horses. And the quadriga is ruled by the winged goddess of victory in antique clothes with a wreath on her head.
- Princesses (1795) a sculptural composition depicting two girls of royal blood Louise and Frederica. Despite the fact that this work initially did not like Frederick Wilhelm III, later it was recognized as one of the best masterpieces of German classicism.
- Monument to Martin Luther (1821) the first sculptural monument in the history of Germany depicting a man of ignoble birth. The great reformer of the church appears before the audience in simple monastic clothes with an open Bible in his hands.
Johann Gottfried Schadov is rightfully considered the greatest German sculptor of the Classicist era. He gave humanity many wonderful works of art, which are still admired by millions of people around the world.