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DANIEL NICOLAS CHODOWIECKI (1726–1801)

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Originally appearing in Volume V06, Page 260 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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DANIEL NICOLAS CHODOWIECKI (1726–1801), German painter and engraver of Polish descent, was born at Danzig. Left an orphan at an early age, he devoted himself to the practice of miniature painting, the elements of which his father had taught him, as a means of support for himself and his mother. In 1743 he went to Berlin, where for some time he worked as clerk in an uncle's office, practising art, however, in his leisure moments, and gaining a sort of reputation as a painter of miniatures for snuff-boxes. The Berlin Academy, attracted by a small en-graving of his, entrusted to him the illustration of its yearly almanac. After designing and engraving several subjects from the story of the Seven Years' War, Chodowiecki produced the famous " I-Iistory of the Life of Jesus Christ," a set of admirably painted miniatures, which made him at once so popular that he laid aside all occupations save those of painting and engraving. Few books were published in Prussia for some years without plate or vignette by Chodowiecki. It is not surprising, therefore, that the catalogue of his works (Berlin, 1814) should include over 3000 items, of which, however, the picture of " Jean Calas and his Family " is the only one of any reputation. He became director of the Berlin Academy in 1797. The title of the German Hogarth, which he sometimes obtained, was the effect of an admiration rather imaginative than critical, and was disclaimed by Chodowiecki himself. The illustrator of Lavater's Essays on Physiognomy, the painter of the " Hunt the Slipper " in the Berlin museum, had indeed but one point in common with the great Englishman—the practice of representing actual life and manners. In this he showed skilful drawing and grouping, and considerable expressional power, but no tendency whatever The Perseis was at first highly successful and was said to have been read, together with the Homeric poems, at the Panathenaea, but later critics reversed this favourable judgment. Aristotle (Topica, viii. 1) calls Choerilus's comparisons far-fetched and obscure, and the Alexandrians displaced him by Antimachus in the canon of epic poets. The fragments are artificial in tone. G. Kinkel, Epicorum Graecorum Frag.- i. (1877) ; for another view of his relations with Herodotus see Muder in Klio (19o7), 29-44. (3) An epic poet of lasus in Caria, who lived in the 4th century B.C. He accompanied Alexander the Great on his campaigns as court-poet. He is well known from the passages in Horace (Epistles, ii. 1, 232; Ars Poetica, 357), according to which he received a piece of gold for every good verse he wrote in celebration of the glorious deeds of his master. The quality of his verses may be estimated from the remark attributed to Alexander, that he would rather be the Thersites of Homer than the Achilles of Choerilus. The epitaph on Sardanapalus, said to have been translated from the Chaldean (quoted in Athenaeus, viii. p. 336), is generally supposed to be by Choerilus. See G. Kinkel, Epicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, L (1877); A. F. Nake, De Choerili Samii Aetate Vita et Poesi aliisque Choerilis (1817), where the above poets are carefully distinguished; and the articles in Pauly-Wissowa's Realencyclopadie, iii. 2 (1899).
End of Article: DANIEL NICOLAS CHODOWIECKI (1726–1801)
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