Letter 311b

311b. Friedrich Tieck to Wilhelm Schlegel in Berlin: Paris, 24 April 1801 [*]

Paris, 24 April [1801]

I received your letter just as I was about to write about you. Hence I am sorry I did not receive it a few days later. If my brother had informed me about your project regarding the monument, as you believe, I would certainly have written you earlier about my arrival in Berlin. [1] I am tentatively planning to depart here 5–10 May and will thus be able to speak with you myself toward the end of May.

Schadow’s idea of a pedestal with an urn on it is just so old fashioned and ordinary. I would prefer to choose the form of the grave memorials of antiquity. Its execution in a larger or smaller format would depend on whether it were to be erected as a free-standing monument or as something up against a wall.

Since receiving your letter I have thought quite a bit about it and will probably do a few drawings of it here before my departure. [2] I would also decorate it with recessed marble and add human figures and perhaps other decorations, perhaps of fired clay (the latter of which would greatly please Herr von Burgsdorf, if you chance to tell him). This is perhaps the material that would withstand time and weather better perhaps than even marble. —

Whether it can be erected as early as the autumn depends solely on the dimensions we choose to give it, though I do not doubt for a moment that such is possible, for one can accomplish much through firm resolve. —

I was extraordinarily flattered that you considered giving a work of my hands priority over a piece by Schadow. Not that I am under any illusion imagining that you consider my piece better, but because it demonstrates your friendship for my brother. — —

It is with pleasure that at the same time I am working on the marble pieces of your memorial, and I am already looking forward to the inscription you will be adding to each of them. [3]


[*] Source: Waitz, (1882), 89. Back.

[1] Wilhelm had been considering Friedrich Tieck as a possible sculptor to do the memorial and bust for Auguste since August 1800, but had also had Schleiermacher query Johann Gottfried Schadow in Berlin. See

  • Wilhelm’s letter to Schleiermacher on 21 August 1800 (letter 265m);
  • to Ludwig Tieck on 14 September 1800 (letter 267e);
  • to Schleiermacher on 24 November 1800 (letter 275a);
  • Schleiermacher’s letter to Wilhelm on 6 December 1800 (letter 276e);
  • Wilhelm’s letter to Goethe on 2 March 1801, to whom drawings had been sent (letter 294a).

As late as 18 April 1801 Wilhelm was expecting Friedrich Tieck to arrive in Berlin any day (see his letter to Caroline on 18 April 1801 [letter 309]).

For an overview concerning both the bust and the memorial for Auguste, see esp. the supplementary appendix on Auguste and the cemetery in Bocklet. Back.

[2] Friedrich Tieck wrote to Wilhelm in the summer of 1802 (Waitz, [1882], 90):

Weimar, 2 August 1802

— — Will you be angry with me for still not yet having finished the drawings for the memorial? — — Back.

[3] Concerning the later course of Tieck’s participation in work on the two separate projects of the memorial and the bust, see Edmund Hildebrandt, Friedrich Tieck: Ein Beitrag zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte im Zeitalter Goethes und der Romantik (Leipzig 1906), 15–17:

In Weimar, a wealth of other work made it necessary for Tieck to postpone this matter of the memorial . . . and it was not until 1803 that he managed to produce a few sketches . . .

In March 1804, Caroline finally received her daughter’s bust in Würzburg, which, however, did not fully meet with her approval; she lamented to Julie Gotter [on 18 March 1804 (letter 383)] that Tieck, who had not known Auguste personally, had followed the portrait too closely.

A year later, Tieck went to Italy, and the matter of the memorial again receded behind more important work. After Caroline’s death [1809], responsibility for the memorial passed wholly to Schelling. Since his efforts to prompt Tieck finally to begin the project also came to nothing, he turned to Thorvaldsen.

On 25 February 1812, that is, almost twelve years after Tieck had received the initial commission for the piece, Schelling mentioned in a letter that he had contacted Thorvaldsen through the mediation of Christian Rudolf Wilhelm Wiedemann in Kiel, and that Thorvaldsen had accepted the commission. Hildebrandt continues:

But Thorvaldsen’s work was also delayed, since the requisite funds were not available until 1814; the artist nonetheless decided to complete the work for an extremely low fee and in the meantime also obligated Schelling to remain utterly silent on that point. In the meantime, Tieck felt profoundly slighted that the commission had been withdrawn from him . . .

Thorvaldsen’s relief for Auguste [see also the photographs in the gallery on Auguste’s memorial], one of the most noble creations among his grave memorials, was never erected at the intended site, and instead is today found in the Thorvaldsen Museum in Copenhagen. Back.

Translation © 2015 Doug Stott