Wilhelm Wackenroder

Herzensergiessungen eines kunstliebenden Klosterbruders

[Outpourings of an Art-Loving Monk]

Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder (1773–1798) was a German writer. With his friend Ludwig Tieck, he was a co-founder of German Romanticism. Wackenroder wrote anecdotal accounts of the lives of Albrecht Dürer, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. He also wrote a “biography” of Joseph Berglinger, an imaginary musician and a spokesman for Wackenroder’s views on art. In these stories he developed an enthusiastic emotional aesthetic, according to which the perfect work of art is created by a divine miracle and is a moral, aesthetic, and religious unity to be grasped only by the heart, not by the intellect. In 1797, on Tieck’s advice, these writings were published under a title chosen by the publishers, Herzensergiessungen eines kunstliebenden Klosterbruders (“Outpourings of an Art-Loving Monk”). Wackenroder elevated Albrecht Dürer to a position of significance in art history, strongly influenced the Nazarenes and the Pre-Raphaelite School of painting, and had a deep impact on such other Romantic authors. Outpourings is a tribute to Renaissance and medieval literature and art, attributing to them a sense of emotion Wackenroder and Tieck felt was missing in German Enlightenment thought.
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