Letter 437a

437a. Schelling to Wilhelm Schlegel in Coppet: Munich, 12 December 1808 [*]

Munich, 12 December 1808

Tieck tells us that his brother, the sculptor, will be coming here from Coppet very soon now. [1]

This, of course, provides us with the occasion to discuss the memorial for Auguste with you, my esteemed friend. [2] Although we have since been thinking constantly about the execution of the piece, in the meantime circumstances themselves have suggested an idea to Caroline that is in fact different from the initial one. You know from your own experience the modest dimensions of apartments here; [3] inflation in that regard now makes it necessary to restrict oneself to a few and, moreover, small rooms. Such an apartment seems a less than appropriate place for a plastic monument that — in a place where, unlike in Würzburg, we do not have a handsome and permanent apartment and are constantly subject to the risk of having to change residences — would be exposed to various unfavorable circumstances and even accidents.

This consideration, together with the emotive element attaching to painting as such, suggested to Caroline the idea of transforming the plastic memorial into a painting; since we have the prospect of journeying to Italy as early as next year, such might be executed there under our supervision by Schick or one of the other more artistically talented and inspired painters. Caroline chose the idea for such a painting from one of your sonnets — the child fleeing into the arms of the celestial mother. [4] This painting would no doubt constitute a far tenderer and more emotionally evocative memorial, would sooner suit our different surroundings, and at the same time, as it were, be more naturally at home than a piece from the plastic arts.

Caroline would now like to know, first, whether you, dear friend, do not also approve of this idea; and then whether you have already made specific arrangements with Tieck and perhaps already paid in advance for the future execution, that she might act accordingly with Tieck. She in any case very much wishes to be in a position to initiate the matter in this way, and thus asks for your good advice and opinion of just how she ought to arrange things with the sculptor Tieck.

Jacobs brought us first-hand news about your well-being. [5] Tieck delights us on many an evening with his readings, in which regard, in my opinion, he now seems to be outdoing even himself. [6]

Stay very well, my valued friend; let me hear a cordial word from you soon, and remain favorably disposed toward

Your friend,


[*] Sources: Krisenjahre 1:653; Fuhrmans 1:426–27. Back.

[1] On his return journey from Italy to Germany, Friedrich Tieck had stopped in Coppet to do a bust of Madame de Staël, but did not arrive in Munich until ca. 16 April 1809 (concerning the bust, see Caroline’s letter to Pauline Gotter on 23 November 1808 [letter 436], note 12). Friedrich Tieck had, however, written Wilhelm from Rome back on 13 February 1808 with a query about possibilities for him in Munich (Krisenjahre 1:506):

He [the Tyrolean painter Joseph Anton Koch (1768–1839)] is hoping that as a Tyrolean, and thus a Bavarian [since 1805, by treaty], he will receive a pension and thus be elevated above any worries for his future life. I wish I had the same prospect, and it may be that you could be helpful to me in several respects.

You wrote me earlier that you wanted to discuss the memorial with Caroline Schelling in Munich. Did you do so? If you are still sufficiently friends with Schelling that he might do something at your request, perhaps you could write him and suggest that he might help me in Munich. I know he is quite well respected there, and certainly no one can recommend me with such a good conscience, since he already saw so much of my work in Weimar, and even possesses his own portrait by me, which so many people have found to be quite well done.


The crown prince of Bavaria spends a considerable sum on sculpture, though, of course, he usually just gets wretched or mediocre things, so much so that these works are viewed almost solely as mere support pieces [i.e., for the artists’ support]. . . .

Could these gentlemen not do something grand of this sort for me? You usually have such good advice, could you give me any here? or how do things stand with the acquaintances you made in Munich?

Wilhelm did indeed invite Friedrich Tieck to Coppet and even sent money for the journey; Tieck left Rome in late September, journeyed by way of Pisa (9 October), Genoa (16 October), and Turin (23 October), arriving in Geneva at the end of October; he left Coppet on 4 April 1809 and arrived in Munich ca. 16 April 1809 (William Shepherd, Germany and Italy in 1803 after the Principal Decree of the Imperial Deputation, Historical Atlas, 2nd ed. [New York 1921], 151):


During the summer of 1809, Crown Prince Ludwig summoned Friedrich Tieck to Salzburg to do his bust and commissioned him to do several pieces for the Bavarian Valhalla collection, of which Schelling’s bust was one. Back.

[2] The reference is to what eventually became Auguste’s triptych rather than her portrait (by Johann Friedrich August Tischbein) or bust, the latter of which Tieck had indeed already done and with which Schelling, of course, was intimately familiar. The painting discussed here never materialized. Concerning the history of the project, see esp. the supplementary appendix on Auguste and cemetery in Bocklet. Back.

[3] Wilhelm had been in Munich 15–21 December 1804 as part of the entourage of Madame de Staël; the Schellings had dined with them on 16 December 1807 (Carlo Goldoni, Opere complete, vol. 15, Commedie die Carlo Goldoni [Venice 1912], 149):



[4] “The Heavenly Mother,” one of Wilhelm’s poem in his eulogy for Auguste, Todten-Opfer für Augusta Böhmer, no. 6, “Die himmlische Mutter,” in the Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1802, 180 (Sämmtliche Werke 1:135). See the translation in the supplementary appendix in this collection. Back.

[5] Friedrich Jacobs had recently traveled through Coppet on his way back to Munich. See Caroline’s letter to Pauline Gotter on 16 September 1808 (letter 435), note 22. Back.

[6] See the supplementary appendix on Ludwig Tieck’s talent for reading aloud. Back.

Translation © 2018 Doug Stott