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Helmut Börsch-Supan

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Helmut Börsch-Supan

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(b Ilmenau, Thuringia, May 21, 1731; d Erfurt, Oct 18, 1794).

German painter. He received his training from his father, Johann Christian Heintze, who was originally a gunsmith before becoming court painter in the tiny principality of Saxony-Hildburghausen. In 1772 Heinsius was appointed court painter in Weimar, which became one of the centres of intellectual life in Germany at this period. There he painted portraits, for example of Charles Augustus, Duke of Saxe-Weimar and of poets of the ‘Musenhof’ such as Johann Wilhelm Gleim and Johann Karl Musäus. However, he did not receive particular recognition with these works. A period of leave in Hamburg (1781–4) was more successful and artistically fruitful. He returned to Weimar and produced a number of portraits, for example Anna Amalia, Duchess of Saxe-Weimar, of great maturity.

Heinsius’ awkward, choleric temperament and his lack of education did not help to make him popular at a time when the artist–scholar was in demand. His financial position was somewhat improved by an appointment as artist at the Freie Zeichen Schule at Weimar. He was a simple craftsman who had turned his hand to portraits; these had an unvarnished truthfulness that did not flatter the sitter. His conception of art owed much to the ideals of the Baroque, his portraits lacking pathos and sentimentality and showing no trace of classical idealization. However, due to their naturalism, his portraits are of great documentary value. His brother, ...

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Helmut Börsch-Supan

German family of artists. Christian Wilhelm Kolbe (c. 1715–1800) lived in Berlin where he made embroideries worked in gold thread; his brother Johann Diederich Kolbe (d 1786) was a goldsmith. Christian Wilhelm’s wife came from a Huguenot family, and their two sons Christian Friedrich Kolbe (b 1758), who was an embroiderer working in gold thread, and (1) Carl Wilhelm Kolbe (i) grew up in an atmosphere steeped in French culture. Carl Wilhelm’s son was (2) Carl Wilhelm Kolbe (ii), the most important representative of the Romantic history painting movement in Berlin, and a relation by marriage to Daniel Chodowiecki, who influenced his career. Johann Diederich’s son, Heinrich Christian Kolbe (1771–1836), was a painter in Düsseldorf, whose realistic portraits were executed in a Neo-classical style that he alone employed after the appointment of Wilhelm Schadow as Director of the Staatliche Kunstakademie in 1826...

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Ekhart Berckenhagen

(b Berlin, July 25, 1725; d Berlin, June 24, 1797).

German painter, draughtsman and etcher. He was the son of the goldsmith Christian Bernhard Rode (d 1755) and the pupil of N. Müller (fl 1740s) and Antoine Pesne. From 1750 to 1752 he studied with Carle Vanloo and Jean Restout in Paris, and between 1754 and 1756 he studied in Rome and in Venice, where he produced oil sketches after Titian, Tintoretto, Pordenone and Giordano. He was a fast and prolific worker with a talent for strong composition and use of colour. This last quality became especially evident after 1770, when he began to execute his works in bright, strong-toned colours. He painted several monumental wall and ceiling paintings, mainly in the castles and palaces of the aristocracy in the area of Berlin and Potsdam. In 1771–3 he produced a series of paintings (e.g. the Ploughman Cincinnatus Chosen to be Dictator) for the house of ...