1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Schadow

SCHADOW, a distinguished name in the annals of German art.

I. Johann Gottfried Schadow (1764-1850), sculptor, was born and died in Berlin, where his father was a poor tailor. His first teacher was an inferior sculptor, Tassaert, patronized by Frederick the Great; the master offered his daughter in marriage, but the pupil preferred to elope with a girl to Vienna, and the father-in-law not only condoned the offence but furnished money wherewith to visit Italy. Three years' study in Rome formed his style, and in 1788 he returned to Berlin to succeed Tassaert as sculptor to the court and secretary to the Academy. Over half a century he produced upwards of two hundred works, varied in style as in subjects.

Among his ambitious efforts are Frederick the Great in Stettin, Blücher in Rostock and Luther in Wittenberg. His portrait statues include Frederick the Great playing the flute, and the crown-princess Louise and her sister. His busts, which reach a total of more than one hundred, comprise seventeen colossal heads in the Walhalla, Ratisbon; from the life were modelled Goethe, Wieland and Fichte. Of church monuments and memorial works thirty are enumerated; yet Schadow hardly ranks among Christian sculptors. He is claimed by classicists and idealists: the quadriga on the Brandenburger Thor and the allegorical frieze on the facade of the Royal Mint, both in Berlin, are judged among the happiest studies from the antique. Schadow, as director of the Berlin Academy, had great influence. He wrote on the proportions of the human figure, on national physiognomy, &c.; and many volumes by himself and others describe and illustrate his method and his work.

II. His eldest son, Rudolph Schadow (1786-1822), sculptor, was born in Rome, and had his father at Berlin for his first master. In 1810 he went to Rome and received kindly help from Canova and Thorvaldsen. His talents were versatile; his first independent work was a figure of Paris, and it had for its companion a spinning girl.

Embracing the Roman Catholic faith, he produced statues of John the Baptist and of the Virgin and Child. In England he became known by bas-reliefs executed for the duke of Devonshire and for the marquis of Lansdowne. His last composition, commissioned by the king of Prussia, was a colossal group, Achilles with the Body of Penthesilea; the model, universally admired for its antique character and the largeness of its style, had not been carried out in marble when in 1822 the artist died in Rome.

III. Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow (1789-1862), painter, was the second son of Johann Gottfried Schadow. In 1806-1807 he served as a soldier; in 1810 he went with his elder brother Rudolph to Rome. He became one of the leaders among the German pre-Raphaelites. Following the example of Overbeck and others, he joined the Roman Catholic Church, and held that an artist must believe and live out the truths he essays to paint. The sequel showed that Schadow was qualified to shine less as a painter than as a teacher and director.

The Prussian consul, General Bartholdi, befriended his young compatriots by giving them a commission to decorate with frescoes a room in his house on the Pincian Hill. The artists engaged were Schadow, Cornelius, Overbeck and Veit; the subject selected was the story of Joseph and his brethren, and two scenes, the Bloody Coat and Joseph in Prison, fell to the lot of Schadow. Schadow was in 1819 appointed professor in the Berlin Academy, and his ability and thorough training gained devoted disciples. To this period belong his pictures for churches. In 1826 the professor was made director of the Düsseldorf Academy. The high and sacred art matured in Rome Schadow transplanted to Düsseldorf; he reorganized the Academy, which in a few years grew famous as a centre of Christian art to which pupils flocked from all sides. In 1837 the director selected, at request, those of his scholars best qualified to decorate the chapel of St Apollinaris on the Rhine with frescoes, which when finished were accepted as the fullest and purest manifestation of the Düsseldorf school on its spiritual side. To 1842 belong the “Wise and Foolish Virgins,” in the Städel Institute, Frankfort; this large and important picture is carefully considered and wrought, but lacks power. Schadow's fame indeed rests less on his own creations than on the school he formed. In Düsseldorf a reaction set in against the spiritual and sacerdotal style he had established; and in 1859 the party of naturalism, after a severe struggle, drove the director from his chair. Schadow died at Düsseldorf in 1862, and a monument in the platz which bears his name was raised at the jubilee held to commemorate his directorate.

(J. B. A.)