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Karl Friedrich Schinkel





Karl Friedrich Schinkel
,German architect and painter was the most prominent architect
of neoclassicism in Prussia.
Schinkel was born in Neuruppinin the Margraviate of Brandenburg.
He started earning his living as a painter.
He enjoyed almost every honor his native Prussia and contemporary Europe
could bestow upon an architect.
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
style that was linked to the recent French occupiers.
Schinkel, however, is noted as much for his theoretical work and his
architectural drafts as for the relatively few buildings that were 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.
He also designed the famed Iron Cross medal of Prussia, and later Germany.
The absolutism of the Prussian monarchy subjected Schinkel to the financial
austerity of Friedrich Wilhelm III and to the mental instability of Friedrich
Wilhelm lV, later (1857-1858) to be declared officially insane and replaced by
his brother, the future Kaiser Wilhelm I.
Perhaps most unfortunate, the fact that Schinkel died before Germany's
phenomenal industrialization really got underway meant that his concern
with new industrial materials and methods had limited scope for realization
and remained largely theoretical.
It is tempting to speculate as to how Schinkel's thoughtful and judicious
attitude towards the developing technology, combined with his elegant
restraint as a designer, would have affected the course of architecture had
he lived on to mid-century rather than die at the relatively early age of sixty.
His most famous buildings are found in and around Berlin. These include
Gendarmenmarkt, which replaced the earlier theater that was destroyed by
fire in 1817, and the Altes Museum(old museum, see photo) on Museum
Later, Schinkel would move away from classicism altogether, embracing the
Neo-Gothic in
Bauakademie(1832–1836), his most innovative building of all, eschewed
historicist conventions and seemed to point the way to a cleanlined"modernist" architecture that would become prominent in Germany only
toward the beginning of the 20th century.

as were several buildings for country estates. while the young Gilly was traveling abroad.The student days under the influence of Friedrich Gilly and early international neoclassicism when Nature and Reason were still thought to be synonymous and best expressed by elementary geometrical forms (as in the Steinmeyer House and the Pomona Temple). The Pomona Temple. entered a world beyond the exigencies of everyday practice (the Royal Palace on the Acropolis and Orianda). The mature neoclassical phase (1815-1826) during which his mastery of Greek. The "Higher Architecture" (1834-1841) in which the experienced practitioner. When Friedrich Gilly returned. a close friendship developed between the two men. Schinkel was so fascinated by an exhibition of the beautifully rendered project drawings by the young Friedrich Gilly (17721800) that he decided on a career as architect. but also in the"Gothic" projects). was Schinkel's own design. At the age of sixteen. using the library the young Gilly had assembled on his trip and copying his drawings and projects. The High Romantic phase (1806-1815) with its concern for the victory of spirit over matter and "what ties us to the superhuman--to God" (most clearly seen in the imaginary architecture of his paintings and stage designs. and Italianate forms was such that he could use them with freedom and originality to express contemporary content (as in the Museum am Lustgarten and Charlottenhof). Decoration was placed as an accent to relieve otherwise severe planes rather than integrated into a tectonic system as it was in the mature work of Schinkel. buildings to the level of architecture (the Bau akademie and the Kaufhaus). Schinkel completed some of his friend's projects and undertook a few of his own. Following the untimely death of Friedrich Gilly in 1800. During the next two years Schinkel visited Italy.including Naples and Sicily. The town house of the master carpenter and contractor Steinmeyer at Friedrichstrasse 103 (demolished 1892) is usually thought to be a design of Gilly which Schinkel executed. his health failing. Schinkel began studies. even utilitarian. The late phase (1827-1841) when his eclecticism was at its most syncretic and comes closest to a"modern" mode capable of raising ordinary. and the strong contrast between drafted masonry and large unarticulated areas of smooth stucco typical of Gilly seem to support this view. Roman. In March 1798. passing . and by 1799 Schinkel was living in the Gilly household. an Ionic garden pavilion on the Pfingstbergnear Potsdam. This handful of building projects and his work designing furniture and porcelain earned him enough money to finance a study trip in 1803.

Soon afterwards he was commissioned to redecorate the Queen's bedroom at Charlottenburg Palace and responded with elegant neo-classical furniture of pearwood and rosecolored muslin for the upholstery and walls. a merchant's daughter from Stettin. The accompanying memorandum contains a rhapsodic description of the mausoleum in which Schinkel makes it clear that he believes architectural form can and should express an idea." although Schinkel's paintings remain closer to the classical landscape of Koch. In 1805 and 1806. The Royal family left Berlin. In this position.through Dresden. Following the death of the popular Queen Luise that same year he submitted a design for a mausoleum in the form of a Gothic hall church. Schinkel had to supplement his limited opportunitiesto build with work as a stage designer and painter of romantic landscapes. . transforming their country estates. Schinkel had seen the 1810 exhibition of Friedrich's painting at the Berlin Akademie der Künste and was clearly influenced by them. Prague. ceding much of its territory to France. For the rest of his career Schinkel continued to serve the royal family. His own landscapes show a similar romantic view of nature as "God speaking to the human heart. and fifteen years later in 1824 Schinkel designed the remodeling of a suite of rooms in the Stadtschloss (the "Historischen Räume") for Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm on the occasion of his betrothal to Princess Elisabeth of Bavaria. he married to Susanne Berger. Even before the return of the royal family to Berlin Schinkel had redesigned part of the Kronprinzenpalais for King Friedrich Wilhelm III. The 1809 panorama had attracted the attention of the royal family and Schinkel had been introduced to Queen Luise. with the assistance of the landscape architect Peter Joseph Lenné. he was not only responsible for reshaping the still relatively unspectacular city of Berlin into a representative capital for Prussia. achieving in these imaginary settings an ideal integration of architecture and nature. Schinkel oversaw the Prussian Building Commission. By 1810 Schinkel was a member of the Academy and Geheimer Oberbauassessor in the Oberbaudeputation with responsibility not only for making financial estimates but for expressing an opinion on the plans for such court or state buildings. but also oversaw projects in the expanded Prussian territories spanning from the Rhineland in the West to Königsberg in the East. rebuilding and furnishing old palaces in the city and. Even after the allied victory of 1815 and until around 1828 Schinkel continued to work as a stage designer. In 1809.and Vienna on the way. France occupied all Prussian lands west of the Elbe. with a stop in Paris on the return journey. After Napoleon's defeat.

the three prominently sited public buildings which Schinkel was commissioned to build in central Berlin during his early maturity. 1816) was at the east end of Under den Linden.The most impressive of these were the 1815/16 designs for Mozart's Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte) in which the Egyptian locale of the opera gave Schinkel the opportunity to reconstruct what was considered by his generation to have been the earliest form of monumental architecture. though Schinkel managed to rotate the axis of the Theatre 90 degrees so that its main entrance was from the center of the Gendamenmarkt on the east and recessed between the two churches. Here the obvious functional relationship between the Palace. Royal Guardhouse. The classical idiom of the Kronprinzenpalais was domestic. the National Theatre and the Museum. if palatial. while the pedimental sculpture of the Greek Doric portico represents a battle scene presided over by a goddess of Victory with smaller "victories" replacing the abstract triglyphs in the frieze below THE NATIONAL THEATRE “Schauspielhaus” Schinkel's Theatre was built to replace an earlier (1800) building by Langhans which had been destroyed by fire in 1817. Friedrich Tieck. all returned to the neoclassical style. adjacent to the Baroque Arsenal and diagonally across from the eighteenth-century Kronprinzenpalais where Friedrich Wilhelm III actually resided. For reasons of economy the King requested that the new building make use of the surviving foundations." In contrast to Gothic monuments.and Ludwig Wichmann. and Arsenal was enriched by an expressive use of the classical vocabulary. Berlin's most important war memorial was the Gothic cross Schinkel designed in 1817/18 for the Tempelhofer Berg (subsequently known as Kreuzberg) with figures by Christian Daniel Rauch. In an event. with sculptural decoration in the form of trophies and captive warrior heads. while the imposing block of the Arsenal was dressed in a sober Tuscan Doric order above a rusticated ground story. . The use of cast iron for this war memorial is especially significant and can be considered as an example of "iron cross-ism. the Royal Guardhouse. The Royal Guardhouse has an even more military character: the projecting corners give it something of the appearance of a Roman castrum. THE ROYAL GUARDHOUSE The Royal Guardhouse ("Neue" Königliche Wache.

his use of the classical idiom is free and imaginative rather than archaeological and the wall here has been replaced by a reticulated screen of small pilasters articulated at the corners by colossal ones. On the other hand Schinkel distinguished his "Temple of the Muses" from the two churches by the Apollonian theme of the sculptural decoration and the use of the Ionic order (the columns were taken over from the previous Theatre).period. with an eye towards art's civilizing effect ( Bildung ) on the nation. scholars. the project to make the royal collections readily available to artists. paintings were to be in the second floor north gallery with other minor departments to east and west of the rotunda and staircase. THE MUSEUM ("Alte" Museum am Lustgarten) The Museum am Lustgarten was one of the earliest buildings specifically designed for the public display of works of art. As at the Guardhouse. . and the public had received added impetus when it became increasingly difficult during the Napoleonic era for young artists to make the heretofore virtually obligatory trip to Italy. not assumptuous decoration in an aristocratic palace. The original intention was to house several departments in the one Museum: heavy sculpture was to be on the first floor—large pieces in the top-lit central rotunda and smaller items in the surrounding wings. and place of origin.Chinked chose to design the entrance to his Theatre as a temple-front portico placed far enough back so as not to compete with the side porticos of the churches but rather to help unify the elongated square through the repetition of similarly-scaled hexastyle porticos. but arranged according to medium. Long discussed.

. the visitor to the museum would have their visual senses assaulted by art and architecture even before they entered the building.A monumental collonade of Ionic columns creates the facade of this prominent museum that was built opposite the king's palace. The row of eighteen columns created a long Stoa which originally displayed paintings by Schinkel (which were completed by others after his death). These have since been destroyed. So originally. It also provided office accommodation and storage and the internal rooms are lit by basement windows on the other facades.The building is placed on a large plinth partially as a damp barrier and for dramatic impact. The two bronze sculptures that adorn the monumental flight of steps are by August Kissand Hubert Wolff. The palace was demolished after the Second World War. the cathedral and the museum on three sides and bounded by the river on the fourth. This created a fine public garden with the palace.

The interior of the building contains two courtyards as well as a magnificent central drum and rotunda. In postwar reconstruction. . the dimensions of the drum was reduced but its discovery still surprises as it is not visible from the exterior.A five bay opening with four more Ionic columns leads to the central vestibule. This was based on the Pantheon and was where the most treasured works were displayed.

With the National Theatre (Schauspielhaus. it nevertheless provides a reverentiall setting for the display of works of art somewhat in the manner of cult objects. Schinkel wished to master materials and technology in order to make them serve his artistic purposes. rather than become enslaved by them in a merely utilitarian process. 1823-1830). 1819-1821. . 1823) and the Museum ("Alte" Museum am Lustgarten. Flanked in the Gendarmenmarkt by the two eighteenth-century churches which Frederick the Great had commissioned Carl von Gontard to build--or enlarge--in 1780-1785 for the Calvinist and Huguenot communities. and if the entrance colonnade of the Museum is closer to a Greek stoa than it is to a temple. Both Theatre and Museum are examples of the "spilt religion" typical of the Romantic era when men worshipped at the shrines of Culture. the Theatre is a temple of the muses where the classics of German drama were performed with a belief in their spiritually uplifting character. the relationship with surrounding buildings was not only one of position and scale but highly symbolic.

The building's predecessor. Other works that have premiered at the Konzerthaus include Undine by E. T. 1802. and the new inauguration on June 18.1821 featured the premier of Carl Maria von Weber 's opera Der Freischütz .The Konzerthaus Berlin (once called the Schauspielhaus Berlin ) is a concert hall situated in the Gendarmenmarkt square of central Berlin. The hall was redesigned by Karl Friedrich Schinkel between 1818 and1821. The vast majority of Schinkel's domestic designs in and around Berlin were remodeling of older buildings. and free wheeling. and the situation was even more constraining when he had for clients members of the royal family. Hoffmann (1816). The high flying. architectural phantasies of the crown prince. A. Since his student days with David and Friedrich Gilly. the National-Theater . Since 1994 it has been the seat of the major German orchestra Konzerthausorchester Berlin. It had been designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans and inaugurated on January 1. Penthesilea by Heinrich von Kleist( 1876). had to be tactfully refined by Schinkel. who fancied himself an amateur architect. Schinkel had been familiar with the undressed brick architecture of the Middle Ages in Brandenburg and East Prussia. . was destroyed by fire in 1817. and Iphigenie in Delphi By GerhartHauptmann(1941).

for example. Schinkel died on 9 October 1841 after a long and debilitatingillness. the Friedrich-Werdersche Kirche (1824-1831) and the lighthouse at Arkona (1825) had given him a certain mastery in the use of brick and terracotta which culminated in the School of Architecture (Bauakademie. projects for a royal library (1835 and 1838). Some of his more frequently quoted remarks should be understood as the musings of an inexperienced youth. the statement contained in the memorandum on the Queen Luise Mausoleum that "the art of the Middle Ages is from the beginning higher in its principles than Antiquity. though unexecuted. his refinement of detail. and on a trip of 1816 the Roman basilica in Trier and the continuing brick building tradition of Holland. a period when the conventions of late nineteenth-century historicism were no longer acceptable and new demands were being placed on architects. The generation of Loos. or Allgemeine Bauschule. To them it was Schinkel's reticence and understatement. and his clarity and coherence of plan and elevation that seemed most congenial. such as the classical scheme for the Friedrich-Werdersche Kirche which had to be put aside when the crown prince decided that a brick building in the Gothic style would be closer in character to the medieval churches of the old city. On the other hand it includes a number of unexecuted projects for which he apparently had a special fondness. CONCLUSION Schinkel lived during a period of transition. By the 1830s his extensive travels and the experience of such buildings as the Feilner House. of the will of the architect and the expectations of client and . There were a lot of buildings in which Schinkel's participation was largely supervisory. or merely part of his civil responsibilities in the Baudeputation. as. Behrens. a period when the conventions of the Baroque could no longer be accepted and a variety of new tasks arising from the social and industrial revolutions demanded new solutions. and the young Mies was living in a period of transition. 1831-1835) and the remarkable.On his first Italian trip he had admired the medieval and early Renaissance brick architecture of Bologna and Ferrara.“ The fragments of his long-projected "ArchitektonischesLehrbuch" have been the subject of much discussion. It is Schinkel's judicious balance of technological progress and historical continuity. A full understanding of Schinkel's theory of architecture may remain impossible.

" but utility and construction remain "dry and rigid" without two equally important elements: "the historic and the poetic.public." To blend these four elements successfully requires feeling in addition to reason. and--most of all--his balance of function and poetry that seem most noteworthy. of the imposing presence of individual buildings and the deference to urban and natural context. . "Utility is the fundamental principle of all building. One argument is very clear.