This fine bust portrait of Friedrich Schiller shows the poet, his head slightly tilted, contemplatively looking beyond the picture. His famously curly hair is diligently combed to the back of the neck and emphasises the lofty brow and gentle face of the poet. The high, wrinkly knotted collar and the blue frock-coat round out the portrait. The small painting originated after one of the well-known works by the painter Ludovike Simanowiz (1759-1827), which portray Schiller once as in bust and once in full as a 35 year old, pensive poet. In contrast to the originals, the portrait at hand has smaller dimensions. It unifies different elements of the originals; in its depiction, it is guided by the small bust portrait, in its choice of material, however, by the large, oil-painted knee-length portrait. Simanowiz’ portraits have shaped the image of Schiller as a sensitive, free-spirited poet, to this day. This portrait was presumably painted by one of Simanowiz’ students, but also possibly by Schiller’s sister, Christophine Reinwald (1757-1847).
This fine portrait of Friedrich Schiller is in good condition, with slight craquelure. The extraordinarily richly decorated frame is in good condition with only minor traces of age and wear. The overall dimensions, framed, are 34.5 x 29.5 cm: the dimensions of the stretcher frame are 27 x 22 cm. The stretcher frame is inscribed, “The Poet Shelley”, on the reverse, probably stemming from an acoustic misunderstanding.
Ludovike Simanowiz (1759-1827)
Ludovike Simanowiz was born to a military physician and grew up with Schiller, whose father had the same occupation, in Ludwigsburg. Despite all societal odds, Simanowiz was able, with the support of her family, to make painting her career. The Württemberg court painter and art professor of the Hohe Karlsschule in Stuttgart, Nicolas Guibal, privately tutored her and placed her in the Württemberg court, whose financial help enabled her to an initial, almost two year-long study visit in Paris. After her wedding, she returned to Paris in the winter of 1791. In 1793, she was able to flee to Germany from the revolutionary unrest. In this period, she painted the two aforementioned portraits (bust and knee-length portrait) of her childhood friend, Friedrich Schiller, whose parents and wife were also painted by Simanowiz. In 1799, her husband suffered from a stroke and from then on, Ludovike Simanowiz was forced to increase the meagre family pension with her painting.
Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805)
Growing up in Ludwigsburg, together with the painter Ludovike Simanowiz, Friedrich Schiller left his parents’ home at the age of fourteen on the Duke’s orders to visit the military academy Karlsschule near Stuttgart. He already composed poems as a boy and he was first published in 1776. At the same time, he completed his medical training. When The Robbers was premiered in 1782, it sparked a storm of excitement from freedom-loving youths and made Schiller famous in Germany practically overnight. He fell out with the Duke Carl Eugen von Württemberg and fled Stuttgart, travelling across Germany and repeatedly publishing poetry and dramas. In 1789, Schiller settled in Jena as a history professor, marrying Charlotte von Lengefeld in 1790. He formed a friendship with Goethe, moving to Weimar in 1799 where he was ennobled in 1802. There, despite being repeatedly plagued by bouts of tuberculosis, he led a harmonious familial life that enabled him to quietly devote himself to his work.