Ernst Heinrich Toelken

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Ernst Heinrich Toelken (seldom spelled Tölken ; born November 1, 1785 in Bremen ; † March 16, 1864 in Berlin ) was a German classical archaeologist , philosopher , art historian , university professor and director of the Berlin antiquarian bookshop .

Youth, studies and work for Hanseatic cities

Toelken was the son of the Bremen merchant Heinrich Toelken. His school education took place both in home schooling by his father and, after his death, by his uncle, as well as through public schools and private lessons. He taught himself Greek. In 1804 he began to study theology at the University of Göttingen , but during the first semester he concentrated more and more on history and added classical philology and philosophy. Academic teachers were Johann Gottfried Eichhorn and Gottlieb Jakob Planck in theology , Arnold Heeren in history and especially Johann Friedrich Herbart in philosophy and education . Toelken joined Herbart's neo - humanist private law firm Pedagogical Society , including Ernst Karl Friedrich Wunderlich , Georg Ludolf Dissen , Friedrich Thiersch and Friedrich Kohlrausch . After seven semesters in Göttingen, Toelken went to the Berlin University , where Friedrich Schleiermacher and Johann Gottlieb Fichte were his most important teachers. With his mother's permission, he also went on extensive wanderings in Germany to see works of art in various places. The attempt to study at the Dresden Art Academy , however, ended after six months. In 1808 he went with his fellow student from Göttingen, Otto Magnus von Stackelberg, on an almost two-year trip to Italy, which included a 16-month stay in Rome. In Rome, Toelken and Stackelberg went their separate ways.

In 1810 Toelken returned to his hometown Bremen, which he had not visited for seven years. Originally, he was supposed to take over the Church of St. Martini as a preacher , but he found employment in the diplomatic service of his city and, as secretary, was a participant in a delegation to France to clarify the problems of integrating the northern German coastal strip into France. Until the summer of 1811 he was a member of the so-called organizational commission in Hamburg .

Start of the academic career

In the summer of 1811 Toelken became a student again in Göttingen, where he now devoted himself particularly to archeology. The doctorate took place with a dissertation on the topic Comparatio politiarum Platonis in libris de republica et de legibus delineatarum , a study on the continued effect of the political conceptions in Plato in his work The State . In the meantime Toelken had decided to embark on an academic career. Heeren was the main examiner for his examination , and Christian Gottlob Heyne was also one of the examiners for the examination in ancient and modern history. In the same semester, Toelken gave his first course after receiving the Venia legendi with the development of the gradual training of the idols of the gods in Greek art . For the following semester he was only allowed to teach on the condition that he started his habilitation within a certain period of time , which Toelken did and submitted the De Phidiae Jove Olympio observationes in mid-March 1812 . The book dedicated to Heyne dealt with the sculptor Phidias . In the summer semester of 1812 he already gave three lectures as a private lecturer and became a member of the Societas philologica Gottingensis . Because of its good connections to the Berlin art scene Toelken was instrumental in the same year for the award of a contract to provide an image work for the recently deceased law professor Christian August Gottlieb Goede of Johann Gottfried Schadow in charge with.

An application for employment as an associate professor, submitted in 1814, was rejected by the university. Toelken drew the consequences of the rejection and moved to Berlin University as a private lecturer in November 1814. A simultaneous job as a high school professor at the Friedrichwerderscher and later at the Köllnisches Gymnasium ensured the financial livelihood . Toelken was not the only Göttingen scholar who took this step, as the university was still averse to a rejuvenation of the teaching staff at that time and this only took place a few years later with Karl Otfried Müller's appointment to the vacant professorship of Heyne. For example, with Karl Lachmann there were other young scientists who left the university.

As a test font for his habilitation in Berlin was created in 1814 on the bas-relief and the limits of sculpture and painting , the font is considered Toelken's most important work. In 1815 a new field of activity opened up for him when he made an inventory of the antiquities that were partly returned to France by Napoleonic troops in 1815. From 1816 to 1818 he was one of the men who were to collect the art objects scattered in many locations in preparation for a large, national and public museum. Toelken was particularly responsible for the cut stones and coins.

Professor in Berlin

In April 1816 he became an associate professor in Berlin. He gave lectures not only on archeology, but also on philosophy. After Fichte's death, his chair was vacant for a long time and Toelken's philosophical readings were also brought up by the responsible ministry to reject several candidates such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel , Hebart and Karl Krause . In 1823 he became a full professor of art history and archeology, in 1827 secretary of the Academy of Arts and a full member of the academic senate of the University of Berlin. As secretary of the academy, he published the short-lived journal Berliner Kunst-Blatt in 1828/29 . In 1825/26 and 1833/31 he was dean of his faculty. In 1832 Toelken switched to museum work, but at the same time kept his professorship. At first he worked as assistant director under Konrad Levezow at the Antiquarium, after his death in 1835 he became director of the collection in 1836. When Toelken took over the post of director, he also became a member of the artistic commission. For 28 years he determined the fate of the antiquarian shop, no other director of one of the Berlin antique collections could achieve such a long term of office. As an archaeologist, he shared Eduard Gerhard's view of archeology as a historical science, as "monumental philology". The most important achievement as a museum archaeologist was the processing of the gem collection. His successor was Carl Friederichs .

Toelken was well educated and took an active part in public life. He wrote writings on many different topics, such as Egyptological , mythological , art-historical and aesthetic problems in the field of painting, poetry and theater. Its versatility was also a problem at a time when many scientific disciplines were becoming independent and the growth in knowledge and research was immense. Toelken could not keep up in many areas because of its diversity of interests in the long term. He was a member of several national and international scientific societies and academies.

Death and grave

Ernst Heinrich Toelken died in Berlin in 1864 at the age of 78. He was buried in the Toelken-Pfeiffer hereditary funeral in Cemetery III of the Jerusalem and New Churches in front of the Hallesches Tor . Only parts of the neoclassical, plastered grave wall including the inscription panels have survived.


Individual evidence

  1. See the obituary in the National-Zeitung. Morning edition No. 131, March 18, 1864, second supplement ( digitized ). The information first published by Ernst Curtius (in his ADB article, see literature) in 1869 is incorrect.
  2. ^ Hans-Jürgen Mende : Lexicon of Berlin burial places . Pharus-Plan, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-86514-206-1 , p. 247.