Schnorr Von Karolsfeld
munich painter school
SCHNORR VON KAROLSFELD, JULIUS (1794 - 1872), of a family of artists, was born in 1794 at Leipsic, where he received his earliest instruction from his father, a draughtsman, engraver, and painter. At seventeen he entered the Academy of Vienna, from which Overbeck and others of the new school who rebelled against the old conventional style had been expelled about a year before. In 1818 he followed the founders of the new school of German pre-Raphaelites in the general pilgrimage to Rome. This school of religious and romantic art abjured modern styles with three centuries of decadence, 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 soon found opportunity of proving his powers, when commissioned to decorate with frescos, illustrative of Ariosto, the entrance hall of the Villa Massimo, near the Lateran. His fellow-labourers were Cornelius, Overbeck, and Veit. His second period dates from 1825, when he left Rome, settled in Munich, entered the service of King Louis, and transplanted to Germany the art of wall-painting learnt in Italy. He showed himself qualified as a sort of poet-painter to the Bavarian court; he organized a staff of trained executants, and set about clothing five halls in the new palace with frescos illustrative of the Nibelungenlied. Other apartments his prolific pencil decorated with scenes from the histories of Charlemagne, Frederick Barbarossa, and Rudolph of Hapsburg. These vast and interminable compositions display the master's merits and defects : they are creative, learned in composition, masterly in drawing, but exaggerated in thought and extravagant in style. Schnorr's third period is marked by his "Bible Pictures" or Scripture History in 180 designs. The artist was a Lutheran, and took a broad and unsectarian view which won for his Pictorial Bible ready currency throughout Christendom. The merits are unequal : frequently the compositions are crowded and confused, wanting in harmony of lino and symmetry in the masses; thus they suffer under comparison with Raphael's Bible. Chronologically speaking, the style is severed from the simplicity and severity of early times, and surrendered to the florid redundance of the later Renaissance. Yet throughout are displayed fertility of invention, academic knowledge with facile execution ; and modern art has produced nothing better than Joseph Interpreting Pharaoh's Dream, the Meeting of Rebecca. and Isaac, and the Return of the Prodigal Son. The completion of the arduous work was celebrated in 1862 by the artists of Saxony with a festival, and other German states offered congratulations and presented gifts.
Biblical drawings and cartoons for frescos 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 busy life closed at Munich in 1872.