Karl Bötticher

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Karl Bötticher

Karl Bötticher (born May 29, 1806 in Nordhausen , † June 19, 1889 in Berlin ; full name Karl Gottlieb Wilhelm Bötticher , spelling also Carl Boetticher ) was a German architect , art historian and archaeologist . From 1868 to 1875/76 he headed the sculpture collection of the Berlin Museum .

Live and act

Karl Bötticher was the oldest child of the baker and innkeeper August Bötticher; after the parents separated, the boy was the only child with his father, who remarried twice - the second wife died in 1819, and with the third, whose dowry brought a certain wealth for the family, he had more children. The young Karl found little support for his musical and artistic talent, partly due to the family situation. He attended high school; It was only through the intervention of his director that it was possible for Karl Bötticher to begin an apprenticeship in construction - initially as a geometer and site manager. With further support from his teachers, who enabled him to study art history in addition to his professional training, Bötticher began studying at the Bauakademie in Berlin after completing his apprenticeship. In preparation he studied mathematics in Erfurt for one year (1826).

When Bötticher realized during his time in Berlin that practical work in construction was no longer an option for him, he had to forego financial support from his father and made his living by drawing orders for various commercial companies. In his studies he focused with passion on the Gothic, which strongly influenced him. His drawings were also influenced by medieval motifs; This work brought him into contact with Schinkel , who gave him a 1,830 employees as a draftsman and lithographer for the pattern book models for manufacturers and craftsmen of Christian Beuth mediated. Bötticher learned lithography especially for this work; When, after completing his studies , he taught at the painting school of the Royal Porcelain Manufactory from 1833 , he also learned the weaving trade in order to be able to teach at the Dessinatur school from 1834. An invention that technically advanced the looms of that time was bought from him by the Prussian state for a small sum of money. In addition to his teaching activities, Bötticher published several ornament and textbooks with numerous lithographs of his own. In 1833 he married Emilie Stier.

His reputation as a draftsman earned him a teaching position for freehand and ornament drawing at the art academy in Berlin in 1839. For 36 years he then taught the same subject at the Bauakademie, since 1844 as a professor. His stylistic turn to antiquity brought him into conflict with the predominant one at the academy, which at the time was more influenced by romanticism. In private studies he devoted himself intensively to Greek architecture and published an extensive work on Greek tectonics that was widely discussed. Many of the theses on the development of Greek architecture represented in this work were later heavily criticized and refuted, for example as early as 1864/1865 by the architect Ernst Ziller, who worked in Greece, regarding the curvature .

During the time of the March Revolution , Bötticher fought as a volunteer in the royal Prussian army and handed over his offices at the building academy to a deputy. For his work on tectonics he received his doctorate from the University of Greifswald in 1853 ; In 1854 the habilitation followed , which secured him a teaching position at the Berlin University (until 1862). In the year of his habilitation, his only son died at the age of 13, followed by divorce from his wife in 1858. In 1859 he married the widow of a colleague who died in 1872. In 1855, in addition to his teaching activities, he took up a position as an assistant at the sculpture collection of the Berlin Museum, and in 1868 he took over the management of the museum. It was not until 1862 that Böttcher was able to travel to Greece himself and directly examine the architecture he described, although he drew many wrong conclusions. In 1860 he was elected a corresponding member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences .

His tenure as museum director was marked by wrong decisions and conflicts; his system of reorganizing the sculpture collection was later discarded, mistakes in the conservation of the sculptures did more damage than they did, and finally his explanatory directory of the casts of ancient works of 1871 led in 1875/76 to Bötticher resigning from all his teaching and management positions and left the Archaeological Society. His successor as director of the museum was Alexander Conze . In 1877 Bötticher entered into a third marriage and traveled to Italy for the first time and Greece again; in Venice he met Gottfried Semper , with whom he maintained professional differences but which did not affect his personal relationship. On June 19, 1889, Bötticher died after a short illness in Berlin and was buried in the Dreifaltigkeitskirchhof II .


  • Ornaments book for practical use by architects , decorators and room painters, 1834–44
  • The wooden architecture of the Middle Ages , 1835–41
  • The Ornaments School , 1838
  • The design school , 1839
  • The Temple of Hypäthra: Based on the Vitruvian testimony against Prof. L. Ross Potsdam 1847 (Bavarian State Library digital)
  • The Tectonics of the Hellenes , (2 text volumes and table volume) Potsdam 1852 (Link HEIDI)
  • CF Schinkel and his architectural legacy: A reminder to his successor in three speeches and three toasting on the days of the birthday party of the eternal , Berlin 1857 (Saxon State Library)
  • Architectural Form School in Ornamental Inventions , 1858
  • Ornament models , 1858
  • Indications of the sacred and the profane in the architecture of the Hellenes , Berlin 1846 (Bavarian State Library digital)
  • The Hellenic Temple in its space for cult purposes , 1849
  • The tree cult of the Hellenes, represented according to the worship customs and the traditional sculptures. Berlin 1856 (Bavarian State Library digital)
  • Report on the investigations on the Acropolis of Athens in the spring of 1862 , Berlin 1863. (Link HEIDI)
  • Additions to the last investigations on the Acropolis: The Altar of Eleusinion in Athens , In: Philologus, 24 (1866) (Link UB Heidelberg, pdf)
  • The Zophorus at the Parthenon: Regarding the dispute about its content and its relation to this building , Berlin 1875 (Link HEIDI)


Web links

Wikisource: Karl Bötticher  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Ernst Ziller: About the original existence of the Curvatures of the Parthenon . In: Zeitschrift für das Bauwesen , 1865, Sp. 35–54.
  2. Holger Krahnke: The members of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen 1751-2001 (= Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Philological-Historical Class. Volume 3, Vol. 246 = Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Mathematical-Physical Class. Episode 3, vol. 50). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001, ISBN 3-525-82516-1 , p. 47.