Letter 432c

432c. Schelling to Johann Friedrich Cotta in Tübingen: Munich, 15 May 1808 [*]

Munich, 15 May 1808

. . . For two months now, the organization of the Academy of Fine Arts has been underway; because I was charged with drafting its constitution, I have been quite busy both with the draft itself and with various matters arising from it, though I have also had the pleasure of seeing most of my ideas confirmed and now actualized.

The king signed the organizational decree a few days ago, I myself being thereby appointed ongoing general secretary of the Academy of Fine Arts with the status and rank of a board director and a handsome stipend, which, when all is added together, will elevate my overall salary to 3000 fl., or very nearly that much, which greatly enhances my overall situation in every respect and finally definitively establishes my position in Munich. [1]

I am convinced of your own cordial interest and satisfaction at this development, similarly also of that of our worthy Herr von Schnurrer, to whom I ask that you pass this news along and to whom I would recently gladly have sent said certificate — through a more witty ambassador than presented itself at the time. [2]

This matter has been pursued with the greatest discretion, so much so that even at this moment probably no one here knows any more than those who knew at the very beginning, and I would thus very much like to avoid any public mention for now lest the news made public elsewhere echo in this direction before really becoming officially known here.

I myself will be sending an announcement concerning the establishment of the academy for the Morgenblatt [für gebildete Stände], and as soon as the constitution has been printed I also intend to write a special article on it for the same periodical comparing it with the constitutions of other academies of fine arts. [3] . . .

Let me also note that I will retain my position in the Academy of Sciences and Humanities, though this new position is indeed an extremely pleasant development particularly in that respect, since it gives me a certain measure of independence from that other body, in which, unfortunately, Jacobi operates solely according to personal considerations.

Stay very well, and remain kindly disposed to me.

As ever,


p.s. Since I have moved into a garden apartment for the summer, let me ask that you address your next letters to Hinter der Gemälde-Galerie 63 ¾ in the house of the court confectioner Dieterich. I also ask that you continue using my previous title until these developments have been made public. [4]


[*] Sources: Schelling und Cotta Briefwechsel 1803–1849, ed. Horst Fuhrmans and Liselotte Lohrer (Stuttgart 1965), 31–32; excerpt Fuhrmans 3:499–500. — This letter helps clarify Schelling’s professional status in Munich. Back.

[1] Maximilian I of Bavaria signed the decree on 13 May 1808, effectively granting Schelling membership in two Bavarian academies, the Academy of Sciences and Humanities and, now, the Academy of Fine Arts; see Fuhrmans 1:354n6:

The two academies were by no means identical, being rather wholly independent of each other; Schelling’s position in each, moreover, was quite different.

When Schelling arrived in Munich, he was initially solely a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, nor did he occupy any office, neither that of a class secretary (Johann Christoph von Aretin was secretary of the philosophical class; Schelling became so in 1818), nor even general secretary (which was Friedrich von Schlichtegroll. Schelling, by contrast, was never the general secretary of the Academy of Sciences and Humanities) [ed. note: see, e.g., this mixup in Roger Paulin, The Life of August Wilhelm Schlegel, Cosmopolitan of Art and Poetry (Open Book Publishers 2016), 294 et passim].

Along with his membership in the Academy of Sciences and Humanities (admittedly a salaried membership), Schelling then received a second membership in May 1808, namely, that of general secretary of the Academy of Fine Arts. Here, too, considerable misunderstanding has obtained. As a consequence of this position, Schelling was forthwith addressed as “Herr Director,” because as general secretary he had the status of a committee or board director [viz., under the rubric of the overall Bavarian state administration]; but Schelling was, of course, never the director proper of the Academy of Fine Arts. Such was always an artist . . .

Schelling was thus a member of two Academies, in both of which he had a superior: Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi in the Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Johann Peter Langer in the Academy of Fine Arts. –

For the rest, Schelling’s tenure as general secretary of the Academy of Fine Arts was no real feather in his cap, since he did almost nothing in connection with this academy, viewing the position instead more or less as a sinecure, as did his successor from 1823, Martin Wagner, who in fact maintained his residence in Rome.

Fuhrmans 1:355, adds that

Schelling’s status in Munich had thereby finally acquired firm footing, and above all he had finally managed to extricate himself from the (to put it bluntly) initial disfavor with which he had come to Munich in the first place.

The Academy of Fine Arts initially shared quarters with the Academy of Sciences and Humanities in what was known as the Old Academy or Wilhelminum. Concerning its location and external appearance, see the earlier explication of the Academy of Fine Arts with additional cross references and illustrations. Back.

[2] The newly constituted Academy of Sciences and Humanities had made, among others, Christian Friedrich Schnurrer a non-resident member (as was Goethe, Fichte, H. E. G. Paulus, Johann Heinrich Voss, and Christoph Martin Wieland as well; Wilhelm Schlegel and Schleiermacher had been made corresponding members). Schelling had sent along Schnurrer’s certificate of membership. Back.

[3] “Über die Verfassung der neuen königlichen Akademie der bildenden Künste in München,” Morgenblatt für gebildete Stände (1808) nos. 171, 172, 173 (18–20 July 1808).

The following announcement, “Gelehrte Gesellschaften und Preise,” appeared later that summer in the Intelligenzblatt of the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung(1808) 56 (17 August 1808), 457–59:

Literary News
I. Scholarly Societies and Awards

A royal Academy of Fine Arts in Munich was established in the Bavarian states by a decree published on 13 May. It has the double purpose of being an institution dedicated to both instruction and education as well as an institution functioning as an association or society of the arts. As an instructional institution, it is divided into the four primary schools of painting, sculpture, architecture, and copper engraving. In the first, the school of landscape painting constitutes a separate subsection. Instruction in these subjects is, moreover, to be associated with the academy’s own lectures on anatomy and mythology. Admission to the gratis instruction is open to every resident and non-resident under certain conditions.

Pupils are accepted at fourteen years old. An excellent preliminary school is to be established in the anticipated provincial art institutes in Augsburg, Innsbruck, and Nürnberg. Each year all pupils in the first and second class will compete for a prize (a useful book on art). Every three years there will be a second, general competition for non-residents and residents and the pupils of the third class. For resident artists, the prize is then a commission to do a painting, statue, or bust for the government. For non-resident artists, the first prize is a medallion of 50 Ducats or that sum in cash; they can also submit their works for exhibition without entering the competition. Yet another new competition takes place during the fourth year for resident artists.

Every artist who receives the prize from the first three subject areas will be rewarded by being sent to Italy for three years, while the copper engraver will receive support for two years for the purpose of executing a significant piece of work. In this competition, artists from all subject areas compete; in the competition every third year, only painters and sculptors compete. —

Pupils have open access to the royal gallery in Munich and Schleissheim and to all collections of copper engravings and drawings. The collection of antiquities and casts constitutes an immediate attribute of the academy. The competition rules and announcements of awards will be publicized in motivated programs. —

As an art society, the academy, apart from the goals commensurate with every such association, is to influence the common sensibility, promote the love of art and a taste for noble forms among all social classes, and elevate and promote artistic skill at the national level; it is also to establish active relationships with other institutions having the same goals, with artists, and with friends of the arts from all lands and nations. —

The academy as an educational institution and as an art society is an independent institution and is not dependent on any other administrative authority other than the curatorium [trustees], which is always to be associated with the Ministry of the Interior.

The ongoing personnel consists of a director, a general secretary, five professors of painting, and one professor for each of the other art forms. The director and general secretary, who are responsible for conducting all literary affairs of the academy, have the rank and status of board directors; regular, full members have that of board councilors. The academy can add residents or non-residents as regular members and grant them the rank of professors. On-site regular members will attend all meetings. Such can, however, be only currently active artists. —

Artists of the first order, scholars, and patrons of the arts can be appointed honorary members; the academy will also have corresponding members. Part of the regular members and professors of the academy, together with the heads of the various art collections, constitute a separate committee for administering art inventories; all new purchases, exchanges, as well as all primary structuring of art collections will be brought before this committee for approval. —

The royal decree appoints the following as standing personnel: director, Peter Langer, previously academy and gallery director in Düsseldorf; general secretary, F. W. J. Schelling, member of the Academy of Sciences and Humanities, who will retain the latter position as well. Professors: of painting: Kellerhofen, Joseph Langer, Hauber, Seidel, Dillis. Of sculpture: Peter Simon Lamin, simultaneously director of the antiquities cabinet; of architecture: Fischer. Of the art of copper engraving: Hess. Members of the art committee: Christian von Mannlich, Director of the Central Gallery, Drawing and Copper Engraving Collections; the two artists Franz and Wilhelm Kobel. From among the members of the academy itself: Director Langer, Professors Langer, Dillis, Lamin, Fischer, Hess. As committee secretary: the general secretary of the academy [Schelling]. Back.

[4] As general secretary of the Academy of Fine Arts, Schelling (as already mentioned) bore the new administrative title “director” even though he was not the director of the academy itself, which was always an artist (1808–24: Johann Peter Langer). Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott