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Peter von Cornelius


Peter von Cornelius (September 23, 1784 - March 6, 1867) was a German painter.

"It fell to the lot of an elder brother and myself to watch over the interests of a numerous family. It was at this time that it was attempted to persuade my mother that it would be better for me to devote myself to the trade of a goldsmith than to continue to pursue painting--in the first place, in consequence of the time necessary to qualify me for the art, and in the next, because there were already so many painters. My dear mother, however, rejected all this advice, and I felt myself impelled onward by an uncontrollable enthusiasm, to which the confidence of my mother gave new strength, which was supported by the continual fear that I should be removed from the study of that art I loved so much."

His earliest work of importance was the decoration of the choir of the church of St Quirinus at Neuss. At the age of twenty-six he produced his designs from Faust. On October 14, 1811, he arrived in Rome, where he soon became one of the most promising of that brotherhood of young German painters which included Overbeck, Schadow, Veit, Schnorr and Ludwig Vogel (1788-1879), a fraternity (some of whom selected a ruinous convent for their home) who were banded together for resolute study and mutual criticism. Out of this association came the men who, though they were ridiculed at the time, were destined to found a new German school of art, the Nazarene movement.

At Rome Cornelius participated, with other members of his fraternity, in the decoration of the Casa Bartholdi and the Villa Massimi, and where thus employed he was also engaged upon designs for the illustration of the Nibelungenlied. From Rome he was called to Düsseldorf to remodel the Academy, and to Munich by the then crown-prince of Bavaria, afterwards Louis I, to direct the decorations for the Glyptothek. Cornelius, however, soon found that attention to such widely separated duties was incompatible with the just performance of either, and most inconvenient to himself; eventually, therefore, he resigned his post at Düsseldorf to throw himself completely and thoroughly into those works for which he had been commissioned by the crown-prince. He therefore left Düsseldorf for Munich, where he was joined by those of his pupils who elected to follow and to assist him. At the death of Director Langer, 1824-1825, he became director of the Munich Academy.

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