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Wilhelm Achtermann



Achtermann (Theodor) Wilhelm

(b Münster, Westphalia, 15 Aug 1799; d Rome, 26 May 1884). German sculptor. He first trained with his father as a joiner, and in 1829 he won a scholarship to Berlin. From 1830 to 1836 he studied at the Akademie der Künste, Berlin, with the sculptors Friedrich Tieck and Christian Daniel Rauch. He was deeply religious and during these years he concentrated almost exclusively on religious themes, for example a Christ on the Cross (1830), a Hovering Angel for a font (1831), a Resurrection relief (1834) and a Virgin and Child (1836). In 1838 the Prussian Minister of Culture, Bethmann Hollweg, commissioned Achtermann to make a marble crucifix for Burg Rheineck bei Niederbreisig (in situ) and this enabled Achtermann to travel to Italy, initially to Carrara for marble for his work, and subsequently to Rome, where he later settled. In Rome the main influences on his work derived from artists in the circles around Bertel Thorvaldsen and Friedrich Overbeck. Affinities with the work of the Lukasbrüder characterized his principal sculpture for Münster Cathedral: an over life-size Pietà (1843–9; destr. World War II; small marble version in Rome, S Prassede) and a large-scale Deposition group (1850–58; destr. World War II; plaster cast in Rome, Trinità dei Monti). Achtermann’s preoccupation with the theme of the Crucifixion continued throughout his life with, for example, a work of c. 1821 in the Mausoleum, Charlottenburg, Berlin, and in 1857 a work for Achtermann’s tomb in the Campo Santo Teutonico, Rome. Although his work was limited stylistically and veered between self-quotation and sentimentality, Achtermann was one of the most consistent representatives of 19th-century German religious sculpture. His work, however, derived from his training as a craftsman and his deeply felt Catholicism, and Achtermann thus remained an outsider within the Rauch school.


The coronation of St. George





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