Hermann Hettner

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Hermann Hettner around 1870. Photograph by Teich-Hanfstaengl, Dresden.

Hermann Julius Theodor Hettner (born March 12, 1821 on Gut Niederleyserdorf near Goldberg / Silesia, today Złotoryja ; †  May 29, 1882 in Dresden ) was a German literary historian, art historian and museum director.

Life and works

Hermann Hettner was born as the second son of the manor owner Karl Friedrich Hettner (1788–1867) and Anna Helene Döring (1788–1847) on Gut Niederleyserdorf near Goldberg. From 1833 to 1838 he attended high school in Hirschberg , studied philosophy and philology in Berlin , Heidelberg and Halle , but turned from philosophical to art and literary history studies from 1843, namely during a stay in Breslau . For this purpose he undertook a multi-year trip to Italy in 1844 , stayed mainly in Rome and Naples and did not return to Germany until Easter 1847. As a result of the Italian trip, the pre-school for the fine arts of the elderly (Oldenburg 1848) and the Neapolitan painting schools (in Schwegler's yearbooks ) appeared.

Hettner completed his habilitation in Heidelberg in 1847 as a private lecturer in aesthetics and art history. In 1848, the year of the revolution, he made friends with the philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach , the Dutch natural scientist Jakob Moleschott and the Swiss poet Gottfried Keller . In the same year he married Marie, daughter of the statesman Freiherr von Stockmar from Coburg. This marriage produced three children, including the German archaeologist Felix Hettner .

Hettner's work The Romantic School in connection with Goethe and Schiller appeared in 1850, like almost all of his other writings, by Eduard Vieweg's publishing house in Braunschweig . The work prompted his appointment to the University of Jena , where he went at Easter 1851 as an associate professor of aesthetics, art and literary history. In the summer of 1852 he went on a trip to Greece with the classical philologists Karl Wilhelm Göttling and Ludwig Preller , which he described in the Greek travel sketches (1853). His book The Modern Drama (1852), which he wrote in close correspondence with his friend Keller, had been published before that.

In 1855 Hettner was appointed director of the royal collection of antiques and professor of art history at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden. A year later his wife Marie died, with whom he had three children. In 1858 Hettner married Anna Grahl, daughter of the Dresden painter August Grahl . From this marriage there were seven more children, among them the geographer Alfred Hettner and the Saxon politician and judge Franz Hettner . The Hettners lived on Wiener Straße and in the summer months the now large family rented the so-called "Villa Betti", which was adjacent to the Villa Rosa property .

Hettner's grave with the bust of Hermann Hettner by Ernst Hähnel in the Old Annenfriedhof in Dresden

By taking over the management of the historical museum and being appointed full professor of art history at the royal polytechnic , Hettner's Dresden sphere of activity expanded significantly. Even before he left Jena, the first part of his comprehensive main work: The History of Literature of the 18th Century , which was completed by 1870 and deals with English, French and German literature (1855–79 in several editions). This literary history, which is both scientific and, thanks to its lively, captivating presentation, also popular, is one of the most ingenious and effective works of the 19th century.

After completing his literary history, Hettner turned mainly to art historical studies on the history of the Renaissance , the first fruit of which was the Italian Studies (1879).

Hettner was a member of the (short-lived) Corps Silesia Berlin (1839/40) and the Corps Saxo-Borussia Heidelberg (1841).

Hermann Hettner died on May 29, 1882. His grave is in the Old Annenfriedhof in Dresden.


from 1st marriage with Marie geb. Stockmar (1827-1856):

  1. Elisabeth Hettner
  2. Georg Hettner (1854–1914), German mathematician
  3. Felix Hettner (1851–1902), archaeologist

from 2nd marriage with Anna Elisabeth geb. Grahl (1838-1897):

  1. Alfred Hettner (1859–1941), geographer ⚭ 1899 Bertha Rohde (1879–1902); ⚭ 1925 Marie Mall († 1955)
  2. Marie Anna Elisabeth Hettner (1860–1905) ⚭ 1886 Friedrich (Fritz) Wilhelm Jakob Ostermayer (1859–1925), curator and art warden in Dessau
  3. Hermann Martin Hettner (* 1862; † 1884 suicide)
  4. Franz Hettner (1863–1946), administrative lawyer, Saxon politician and judge ⚭ 1893 Anna Elise Stübel (* 1870)
  5. Rosa (Röschen) Hettner (1865–1934) ⚭ 1886 Richard Schmaltz (1865–1935), doctor
  6. Erich Hettner (1868–1933), entrepreneur, founder of the Hettner drilling machine factory ⚭ 1900 Grete Unger (1881–1959)
  7. Otto Hettner (1875–1931), painter ⚭ Jeanne Alexandrine Thibert
    1. Roland Hettner (1905–1978), painter and ceramist
    2. Sabine Hettner (1907–1985), painter


History of German Literature in the Eighteenth Century , Braunschweig 1879 (double title page)
  • History of French Literature in the Eighteenth Century. Friedrich Vieweg and son, Braunschweig 1860.
  • History of German Literature in the Eighteenth Century , Friedrich Vieweg and Son, Braunschweig 1879
  • Eighteenth Century Literary History. In 3 parts. Friedrich Vieweg and son, Braunschweig 1856 ff.
  • The sculptures of the royal collection of antiques in Dresden . Dresden 1856, 3rd edition 1875.
  • The Zwinger in Dresden . Leipzig 1873.
  • Georg Forster 's correspondence with S. Th. Sömmering . Edited by H. Hettner. Braunschweig 1877.
  • Small fonts . Edited by Anna Hettner. Braunschweig 1884.


  • Jürgen Jahn: The correspondence between Gottfried Keller and Hermann Hettner . Berlin and Weimar 1964.


Web links

Wikisource: Hermann Hettner  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Correspondence between Gottfried Keller
  2. ^ Kösener corps lists 1910, 15 , 4; 120 , 202