Leonhard Kern

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Leonhard Kern: The muse Kalliope , around 1640
Leonhard Kern: ogre, ivory sculpture, around 1650

Leonhard Kern (born November 22 . Jul / December 2, 1588 greg. In Forchtenberg , † April 4 jul. / April 14, 1662 greg. In Schwäbisch Hall ) was a German sculptor .

life and work

Leonhard Kern was born on November 22nd ( Julian calendar ) 1588 in the Hohenlohe town of Forchtenberg as the fourth son of the stonemason and master craftsman Michael Kern the Elder. Ä. born. He attended grammar school in Öhringen , from 1603 to 1609 with his older brother Michael Kern the Elder . J. trained as a sculptor in Würzburg . He then stayed in Italy for study purposes until 1613/14 , from where he made a detour to North Africa and spent two years in Rome , where he dealt intensively with Italian sculpture of the 16th century . He returned home via Laibach ( Carniola ) and Oberburg ( Lower Styria ), where he made the first dated work in 1613, the high altar of the collegiate church. In 1614 he married Amalia Zöllner, the daughter of a clerk, in Forchtenberg. With her he had at least 14 children, most of whom died early. First he worked in the workshop of his brother Michael, from there he went to Heidelberg to the court of Elector Friedrich V of the Palatinate , from where he created a monumental group in Nuremberg in 1617 , which included four animal figures from the Bible book of Daniel for made the three baroque portals of the Nuremberg town hall . However, due to the involvement of the Palatinate in the Thirty Years' War , he soon left Heidelberg and settled in the imperial city of Schwäbisch Hall in 1620 . Here he founded his own workshop, with which he specialized in the production of small-figure cabinet pieces with a wide range of topics.

Like most sculptors of his time, Kern learned to work with various materials in his youth, including stone in the first place. In the family workshop in Forchtenberg he was mainly involved in the erection of monuments. Soon he specialized in sculptures and reliefs of smaller format, which were mainly considered as collection objects. After his return from Italy, he created several alabaster reliefs with religious iconography, including a relief with the Lamentation of Christ, which is now in the Kolumba , the art museum of the Archdiocese of Cologne. Since his establishment in Schwäbisch Hall in 1620, Kern increasingly made statuettes out of ivory and wood, which were to enjoy great popularity with princely collectors and which ensured the entrepreneurial success of his workshop. In addition to religious, mythological and genre scenes , his work also reflects the atrocities of the Thirty Years' War, which he witnessed in Schwäbisch Hall. Kern's work was characterized by a high level of technical mastery and artistic and creative skill. Stylistically, he represented the classic-realistic style in German baroque sculpture . Today he is considered one of the most important German sculptors of the 17th century . His work was already highly valued during his lifetime, as shown by his appointment as court sculptor for the Kurbrandenburg in 1648 . Many of his best works came into the possession of great and important art collectors - many of them nobles and princes - throughout Europe and in their chambers of art and curiosities. Despite the adverse circumstances of the time, he was able to acquire a considerable fortune, which enabled him to acquire the Tullau castle . He died on April 4, 1662 in his town house in Schwäbisch Hall and was buried on April 6.


  • August Wintterlin:  Kern . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 15, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1882, pp. 633-635.
  • Elisabeth Grünenwald:  Kern, Leonhard. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 11, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1977, ISBN 3-428-00192-3 , p. 515 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Elisabeth Grünenwald: Leonhard Kern. A baroque sculptor . Eppinger, Schwäbisch Hall 1959 ( research from Württembergisch Franconia. Volume 2).
  • Harald Siebenmorgen (Ed.): Leonhard Kern (1588-1662). Masterpieces of sculpture for the art chambers of Europe . Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1988, ISBN 3-7995-3301-X ( catalogs of the Hällisch-Fränkisches Museum Schwäbisch Hall. Volume 2).
  • Harald Siebenmorgen (Ed.): Leonhard Kern (1588–1662). New research contributions . Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1990, ISBN 3-7995-3302-8 ( Catalogs of the Hällisch-Fränkisches Museum Schwäbisch Hall. Volume 2 - Supplement).
  • Virginie Spenlé: Leonhard Kern and the art of alabaster sculpture . New discoveries about the artist's early work. Leonhard Kern and the Art of Alabaster Sculpture. New Discoveries From His Early Work . In: Georg Laue (ed.): Leonhard Kern. The German Giambologna. The German Giambologna , Kunstkammer Georg Laue, Munich 2016, ISBN 978-3-00-052138-6 , pp. 8-69

Web links

Commons : Leonhard Kern  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Herta Beutter: "An artful, swift sculptor, all worthy of praise and honor". Biographical notes on Leonhard and Amalia Kern. In: Harald Siebenmorgen (Ed.): Leonhard Kern (1588-1662). Masterpieces of sculpture for the art chambers of Europe . Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1988, ISBN 3-7995-3301-X ( catalogs of the Hällisch-Fränkisches Museum Schwäbisch Hall. Volume 2), p. 15–30, here p. 25