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MORITZ VON SCHWIND (1804-1871)

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Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 395 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MORITZ VON SCHWIND (1804-1871), German painter, was born in Vienna in 1804. He received rudimentary training and led a joyous careless life in that gay capital; among his companions was the composer Schubert, whose songs he illustrated. In 1828 he removed to Munich, and had the advantage of the friendship of the painter Schnorr and the guidance of Cornelius, then director of the academy. In 1834 he received the commission to decorate King Ludwig's new palace with wall paintings illustrative of the poet Tieck. He also found in the same place congenial sport for his fancy in a " Kinderfries "; his ready hand was likewise busy on almanacs, &c., and by his illustrations to Goethe and other writers he gained applause and much employment. In the revival of art in Germany Schwind held as his own the sphere of poetic fancy. To him was entrusted in 1839, in the new Carisruhe academy, the embodiment in fresco of ideas thrown out by Goethe; he decorated a villa at Leipzig with the story of Cupid and Psyche, and further justified his title of poet-painter by designs from the Niebelungenlied and Tasso's Gerusalemme for the walls of the castle of Hohenschwangau in Bavarian Tirol. From the year 1844 dates his residence in Frankfort; to this period belong some of the best easel pictures, pre-eminently the Singers' Contest in the Wartburg (1846), also designs for the Goethe celebration, likewise numerous book illustrations. The conceptions for the most part are better than the execution. In 1847 Schwind returned to Munich on being appointed professor in the academy. Eight years later his fame was at its height on the completion in the castle of the Wartburg of wall pictures illustrative of the Singers' Contest and of the history of Elizabeth of Hungary. The compositions received universal praise, and at a grand musical festival in their honour Schwind himself played among the violins. In 1857 appeared his exceptionally mature "cyclus " of the Seven Ravens from Grimm's fairy stories. In the same year he visited England to report officially to King Ludwig on the Manchester art treasures. And so diversified were his gifts that he turned his hand' to church windows and joined his old friend Schnorr in designs for the painted glass in Glasgow cathedral. Towards the close of his career, with broken health and powers on the wane, he revisited Vienna. To this time belong the " cyclus " from the legend of Melusine and the designs commemorative of chief musicians which decorate the foyer of the new opera house. Cornelius writes, " You have here translated the joyousness of music into pictorial art." Schwind's genius was lyrical; he drew inspiration from chivalry, folk-lore, and the songs of the people; his art was decorative, but lacked scholastic training and technical skill. Schwind died at Munich in 1871, and was buried in the old Friedhof of the same town.
End of Article: MORITZ VON SCHWIND (1804-1871)
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