Peter by Cornelius

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Peter von Cornelius, ca.1850
Signature Peter von Cornelius.PNG

Peter von Cornelius (born September 23, 1783 in Düsseldorf ; † March 6, 1867 in Berlin ) was a German painter and one of the main exponents of the Nazarene style.


Peter Cornelius was the son of Johann Christian Alois Cornelius (1748–1800), painter, teacher and inspector at the Electoral Academy , and his wife Anna Helena Corsten. The house where he was born is at Kurz Strasse 15 in the old town of Düsseldorf. Like his older brother Lambert (1778-1823) , he received his first artistic training from his father.

From 1798 to around 1805 Cornelius studied at the Düsseldorf Academy. In the years 1803 to 1805 he participated in the Weimar award tasks of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe . In 1806/08 he created wall paintings in the Quirinus Minster in Neuss . After his mother died on June 2, 1809, Cornelius traveled in autumn 1809 via Koblenz to Frankfurt am Main , where he lived from 1809 to 1811 in the house of a sponsor, the publisher Friedrich Wilmans ; two pictures of Wilmans and his wife were taken. In 1811 he went to Rome with his friend Christian Xeller , worked in the Casa Bartholdy and made friends there with the painter Friedrich Overbeck . This took him into the Luke covenant, which is considered to be the nucleus of the Nazarenes .

The Holy Family with John the Baptist as a boy , sketch, 1816 ( Museum Kunstpalast , Düsseldorf)
The executors of God's punishment , fresco, Munich, St. Ludwig

In 1816 his series of illustrations for Goethe's Faust I appeared , with which he gave up his initially baroque classicism and turned to neo-Gothic forms. The painters Ernst Ludwig Riepenhausen and Franz Pforr can be regarded as predecessors .

From 1819 to 1824 Cornelius was director of the Düsseldorf Art Academy , which had re-established the Kingdom of Prussia in 1819. Cornelius and even more his successor Wilhelm von Schadow created the academic basis of the Düsseldorf School of Painting there .

In 1819 Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria called Cornelius to Munich for an assignment . Among other things, he was supposed to redesign the Glyptothek there . Although the relationship between artist and regent was very difficult, Cornelius was entrusted with the management of the local Academy of Fine Arts in 1825 and ennobled by the now Bavarian King Ludwig I. To support his varied tasks, Cornelius brought some of his Düsseldorf students such as Hermann Anschütz , Wilhelm Kaulbach and Adam Eberle , whom Moritz von Schwind later joined. In 1841 there was a falling out with the king and Cornelius moved to Berlin .

Grave site in the old cathedral cemetery of St. Hedwig's parish in Berlin

The Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV commissioned him with the artistic design of the planned new cathedral building and the cemetery hall next to it, which the king also likes to call Campo Santo . Count Atanazy Raczyński gave him the south wing of his palace as a studio. In 1843 Cornelius joined the Lawless Society in Berlin . Since the construction of the new cathedral planned by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. Did not get beyond the work on the foundations and the Campo Santo was not fully completed either, the designs on which Cornelius had worked for almost 20 years could never be realized. In 1860 he became a member of the Munich Association for Christian Art . When Peter von Cornelius became an honorary citizen of the city of Düsseldorf in 1862, the artists' association Malkasten organized a festival in his honor in the Geisler restaurant and in the Jacobi garden.


His first wife, Carolina Grossi, a born Roman, whom he married in 1814, he and his daughter died in 1832. With his second wife Gertrude Ferretini, again a Roman woman, he married by procuration before she came to him in Munich. After her death in 1861 he married a young Urbinate .


The Last Judgment by Peter von Cornelius, in the Ludwigskirche in Munich; second largest altar fresco worldwide.

In his monumental works he attempted to revitalize German fresco painting , whereby his real talent is less evident in the coloring than in the figure drawing. In his late work he leaned heavily on the classical form of Raphael .

Illustrations (selection)


Honorary Citizen's Letter of the City of Düsseldorf dated July 30, 1862

Peter von Cornelius is also the namesake of the Cornelius Prize of the city of Düsseldorf.


Web links

Commons : Peter von Cornelius  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Note: Ref. See advertisement baptism of the brother Lambert Cornelius.
  2. ^ Kurz Straße 15, birthplace of the painter Peter von Cornelius (director of the Art Academy 1819–1824) , on , Stadtgeschichte.
  3. See also the letter of recommendation from Overbeck's childhood friend Karl Ludwig Roeck at s: Karl Ludwig Roeck to Friedrich Overbeck, 1810
  4. see e.g. B. Johannes Vesper: Preciousness and treasure trove . Retrieved October 2, 2011.
  5. ^ Announcement of the Association for Christian Art in Munich . Munich 1910, p. 25.
  6. Chronicle of the Düsseldorfer Malerschule , in Bettina Baumgärten (Ed.): The Düsseldorfer Malerschule and its international impact 1819–1918 in the Museum Kunstpalast Düsseldorf, Michael Imhof Verlag Petersberg 2011, pp. 353–376.
  7. See for example H. von Blomberg: Peter von Cornelius . In: Journal for Prussian History and Regional Studies , Volume 4, Berlin 1867, pp. 399–411 .
  8. After Frank Büttner: Fresken ... , Volume 2 (lit.), p. 335.
  9. ^ Government Gazette for the Kingdom of Bavaria , No. 4, Munich, January 30, 1839.
  10. Past Academicians "C" ( Memento of the original from March 20, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , at , accessed March 21, 2015. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /