Schirmer, Friedrich 'Wilhelm
SCHIRMER, FRIEDRICH 'WILHELM (1802-1866), landscape artist, was born in 1802 in Berlin. As a youth he painted flowers in the royal porcelain factory ; afterwards he became a pupil of F. W. Schadow in the Berlin Academy, but his art owed most to Italy. His first journey across the Alps was taken in 1827 ; his sojourn extended over three years ; ho became a disciple of his countryman Joseph Koch, who built historic landscape on the Poussins, and is said to have caught inspiration from Turner. In 1831 Schirmer established himself in Berlin in a studio with scholars ; in 1839 he was appointed professor of landscape in the academy ; in 1845 he again visited Italy, but duties soon brought him back to Berlin. Illness compelled him in 1865 to seek a southern clime ; he grew worse in Rome, and died on his way home in 1866.
Schirmer's place in the history of art is distinctive : his sketches in Italy were more than transcripts of the spots ; lie studied nature with the purpose of composing historic and poetic landscapes. On the completion of the Berlin Museum of Antiquities came his opportunity : upon the walls he painted classic sites and temples, and elucidated the collections by the landscape scenery with which they were historically associated. His supreme aim at all times was to make his art the poetic interpretation of nature. His pictures appeal to the mind by the ideas they embody, by beauty of form, harmony of line, significance of light and colour. In this constructional landscape German critics discover "motive," "inner meaning," "the subjective," "the ideal." And Schirmer thus formed a school. Nevertheless at times he painted poor pictures, partly because he deemed technique secondary to conception.