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 Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld  (1794 - 1872)



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Lived/Active: Germany/England      Known for: religious painting, drawing, engraving, stained-glass design

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Julius (von Carolsfeld) Schnorr is primarily known as Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld was a German painter born at Leipzig to Johann Veit Schnorr (1764–1841), a draughtsman, engraver and painter. His father provided young Julius his first instruction in art. At seventeen Julius entered the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts*, from which Johann Friedrich Overbeck and others who rebelled against the old conventional style had been expelled about a year before.

Schnorr followed the founders of the new artistic brotherhood, the Nazarene movement*, in their pilgrimage to Rome in 1815. This school of religious and romantic art tended to reject modern styles, and reverted to and revived the principles and practice of earlier periods. At the outset an effort was made to recover fresco* painting and monumental art, and Schnorr found opportunity of proving his powers, when commissioned to decorate with frescoes, illustrative of Ariosto, the entrance hall of the Villa Massimo, near the Lateran. His fellow-laborers were Peter Von Cornelius, Overbeck, and PhilippVeit.

The second artistic period of Schorr's output dates from 1825, when he left Rome, settled in Munich, entered the service of King Ludwig, and transplanted to Germany the art of wall-painting, which he had learned in Italy. He showed himself qualified as a sort of poet-painter to the Bavarian court; he organized a staff of trained executants, and covered five halls in the new palace with frescoes illustrative of the Nibelungenlied (Song of the Nibelings, an epic High German poem). He also created scenes from the histories of Charlemagne, Frederick Barbarossa and Rudolph of Habsburg. Critics considered these compositions to be creative, learned in composition, masterly in drawing, but also exaggerated in thought and extravagant in style.

Schnorr's third period is marked by his Biblical illustrations. He was a Lutheran, and took a broad and un-sectarian view. An 1851 visit to London generated a commission for a Picture Bible, for which he created over 200 woodcuts. While in London he also received a commission for St. Paul's Cathedral, to design many of the glass windows, which later were manufactured in the royal foundry in Munich.

The Picture Bible illustrations were often complex and cluttered; some critics found them wanting in harmony of line and symmetry, judging them to be inferior to similar work produced by Raphael for his Bible. His style differs from the simplicity and severity of earlier times, exhibiting instead the florid resplendence of the later Renaissance*.

Biblical drawings and cartoons for frescoes formed a natural prelude to designs for church windows. The painter's renown in Germany secured commissions in Great Britain. Schnorr made designs, carried out in the royal factory, Munich, for windows in Glasgow cathedral and in St Paul's Cathedral, London. This Munich glass provoked controversy: medievalists objected to its want of lustre, and stigmatized the windows as coloured blinds and picture transparencies. But the opposing party claimed for these modern revivals the union of the severe and excellent drawing of early Florentine oil-paintings with the colouring and arrangement of the glass-paintings of the latter half of the 16th century.

Schnorr's son Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld was an operatic tenor whose life was cut short by an unexpected and fatal illness at age 24. He had just begun to gain renown as the first to sing Wagner's Tristan; he only completed four public performances before his death. Schorr's brother, Ludwig Ferdinant (1789-1853) was a painter.

Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld died in Munich in 1872.


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