Reingold Begas is a brilliant sculptor

Photo-portrait of the sculptor, 1900
Photo-portrait of the sculptor, 1900

Brilliant sculptor whose masterpieces were ruthlessly destroyed by the authorities for political reasons

Reinhold Begas (July 15, 1831 August 3, 1911) the famous German sculptor of the second half of the XIX century, an outstanding master of the neo-Baroque style. Reingold Begas is rightfully considered the greatest representative of the Berlin school of sculptural art, and the best masterpieces of his work adorn the squares of Berlin and many other cities in Germany. The artist’s biography is a vivid example of the successful career of a brilliant sculptor who devoted his whole life to his beloved work.

Reingold Begas was the most famous member of the family of artists in the visual arts. In addition to him, his father Karl Joseph (Carl Joseph Begas), brothers Karl (Karl Begas der Jüngere), Oskar (Oskar Begas) and Adalbert (Adalbert Begas), as well as the eldest son Werner (Werner Begas) left a significant mark in German culture.

Reingold Begas, Monument to Schiller, 1871
Monument to Schiller, 1871

Biography of Reingold Begas

Reingold Begas was born on July 15, 1831 in the small town of Schöneberg, which in the 1920s became one of the districts of the German capital, and today is part of Berlin. His father was a famous painter, adored fine arts and managed to instill a love of creativity in all four sons.

Reingold was the second child in the family, but unlike his father, like his youngest brother Adalbert, from early childhood he was fond of not painting, but sculpture. Fortunately, the parents approved of the choice of their son, and the talented boy, while still in elementary school, began to attend private lessons from his godfather, the sculptor Ludwig Wilhelm Wichmann.

Reingold Begas, Bust of Adolf von Menzel, 1876
Bust of Adolf von Menzel, 1876

In 1846, Reingold Begas, who by that time was barely 15 years old, became a student at the Berlin Academy of Arts, and Christian Daniel Rauch was his mentor within the walls of a prestigious educational institution. After completing his studies in 1851, Reingold worked in the Rauch workshop for another five years. At one of the exhibitions, the young sculptor won the highest academy award and was entitled to a paid retirement trip to Rome.

Reingold Begas, Mercury and Psyche, 1878
Mercury and Psyche, 1878

Begas went to the capital of Italy in 1856 and lived in the Eternal City for two years, after which he returned to Germany.

By that time he was 27 years old and the young artist enthusiastically engaged in the development of an independent professional career. Very soon, Reingold acquired the fame of a promising talented sculptor, and in 1861 he received an invitation to take up the post of professor at the newly created Weimar School of Art.

Reingold Begas accepted this offer and left for Saxony, but lived in Weimar for only two years, after which he decided to give up teaching and returned to Berlin. Until the early 1870s, the sculptor often traveled around Europe, he repeatedly visited Rome and Paris, but each time he returned to the German capital.

On the eve of his fortieth birthday, Reingold Begas married Margaret Philip and from that moment firmly established himself in one place. He personally developed a project for his own villa in the suburbs of Berlin, and upon completion he moved to live in a luxurious mansion with a spacious studio. In a happy marriage, he had three children two sons (Werner and Frederick) and a daughter, Molly.

Reingold Begas, Venus and Cupid, 1879
Venus and Cupid, 1879
From 1871 until his death, the brilliant sculptor was a member of the Union of German Artists and a professor at the National Academy of Arts

But none of the great master’s students became an outstanding sculptor. Begas had many influential clients, but among them it is worth noting the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, who treated the master with great respect.

The all-powerful ruler for many years provided the artist with large-scale representative orders and generously paid for the work performed. In addition, the sculptor willingly took on the manufacture of statues, busts, tombstones and bas-reliefs. During his life, he created hundreds of excellent works, many of which were subsequently irretrievably lost during wars, revolutions and the change of ruling regimes.

Despite serious health problems and tuberculosis diagnosed by doctors in the early 1890s, the brilliant sculptor lived a long life and even managed to celebrate his 80th birthday. But just 19 days after this significant event, on August 3, 1911, Reingold Begas died in his Berlin villa with family and friends. He was buried with great honors in the Old Cemetery of the Twelve Apostles, where the remains of many prominent figures of German art and science are buried.

Monument to Alexander Humboldt, 1883
Monument to Alexander Humboldt, 1883
The most famous works of Reingold Begas

The renowned master of sculptural art presented his descendants with many unique works. But the most famous works of Reingold Begas are:

  • The Schiller Monument (1871) is a long-suffering masterpiece of the master, which was dismantled by the Nazis in 1936 to free up the area for their marches. The monument, created in honor of the great German poet, returned to its original place only 50 years later, in 1986.
  • Monument to Alexander Humboldt (1883) is a tribute to the world famous traveler. The monument is installed on the square near the main entrance to the Berlin Humboldt University.
  • The Neptune Fountain (1891) is a work that adorns the square in front of the Berlin City Hall. The grandiose masterpiece was created in the best traditions of ancient art and is undoubtedly the most beautiful fountain in the German capital.
  • The National Monument to Kaiser Wilhelm (1897) is a monument long lost for posterity, glorifying the outstanding Prussian monarch. Today only a huge plinth on Palace Square and two sculptural groups of lions located in the Berlin Zoo have survived from the majestic monument.

Reingold Begas is rightfully considered the greatest monumental sculptor of the late German Empire. And his masterpieces still make millions of people admire the skill of the great master.

Centaur and Nymph, 1888
Centaur and Nymph, 1888
Fountain Neptune, 1891
Fountain Neptune, 1891
Sarcophagus at the tomb of Frederick III, 1892
Sarcophagus at the tomb of Frederick III, 1892
Bismarck National Monument, 1901
Bismarck National Monument, 1901
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