Karl Friedrich Schinkel
Karl Friedrich SchinkelGermany
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Karl Friedrich Schinkel (March 13, 1781 - October 9, 1841) was a German architect and painter. Schinkel was the most prominent architect of neoclassicism in Prussia.
Born in Neuruppin (Brandenburg), he lost his father at the age of six in Neuruppi
n's disastrous fire. He became a student of Friedrich Gilly (1772-1800) (the two became close friends) and his father, David Gilly, in Berlin. After returning to Berlin from his first trip to Italy in 1805, he started to earn his living as a painter.
When he saw Caspar David Friedrich's painting "Wanderer above the Sea of Fog" at the 1810 Berlin art exhibition he decided that he would never reach such a mastership in painting and definitely turned to architecture. After Napoleon's d
efeat, Schinkel oversaw the Prussian Building Commission. In this position, he was not only responsible for reshaping the still relatively unspectacular city of Berlin into a representative capital for Prussia, but also oversaw projects in the expanded Pr
ussian territories spanning from the Rhineland in the West to Königsberg in the East.
Schinkel's style, in his most productive period, is defined by a turn to Greek rather than Imperial Roman architecture, an attempt to turn away from the st
yle that was linked to the recent French occupiers. (Thus, he is a noted proponent of the Greek Revival.) His most famous buildings are found in and around Berlin. These include Neue Wache (1816-1818), the Schauspielhaus (1819-1821) at the Gendarmenmarkt,
which replaced the earlier theater that was destroyed by fire in 1817, and the Altes Museum (old museum, see photo) on Museum Island (1823-1830).
Later, Schinkel would move away from classicism altogether, embracing the Neo-Gothic in his Friedrichsw
erder Church (1824-1831). Schinkel's Bauakademie (1832-1836), his most innovative building of all, eschewed historicist conventions and seemed to point the way to a clean-lined "modernist" architecture that would become prominent in Germany
only toward the beginning of the 20th century.
Schinkel's Neues Schauspielhaus ("New Theatre"), BerlinSchinkel, however, is noted as much for his theoretical work and his architectural drafts as for the relatively few buildings that we
re actually executed to his designs. Some of his merits are best shown in his unexecuted plans for the transformation of the Athenian Acropolis into a royal palace for the new Kingdom of Greece and for the erection of the Orianda Palace in the Crimea. The
se and other designs may be studied in his Sammlung architektonischer Entwürfe (1820-1837) and his Werke der höheren Baukunst (1840-1842; 1845-1846). He also designed the famed Iron Cross medal of Prussia, and later Germany.
It has been spe
culated, however, that due to the difficult political circumstances – French occupation and later the dependency on less-than-capable Prussian kings – and his relatively early death, which prevented him from seeing the explosive German industr
ialization in the second half of the 19th century, he did not even live up to the true potential exhibited by his sketches.