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17 facts about Karl August Senff

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By Gwylym Owen

Karl August Senff (12 March 1770 – 14 January [O.S. 2] 1838) was a Baltic German painter, engraver and teacher. He is best known for his etchings of famous German and Baltic German military figures in help to the Imperial Russian Army. He served as professor of drawing at the University of Dorpat (now University of Tartu) from its reopening in 1802 until his death in 1838 where he trained some of Estonia’s most highly praised artists.

Senff was born in the village of Kreypau, Kingdom of Prussia. The son of Karl Friedrich Senff, a Protestant theologian, he had originally planned to examination medicine at Halle but by 1788 had transferred to the Leipzig Academy of Arts to examination painting with the German etcher, painter and sculptor Adam Friedrich Oeser. Oeser zealously opposed quirk in art and was a stout champion of Johann Joachim Winckelmann’s advocacy of reform upon antique lines. As director of the newly founded academy, he insisted on an aesthetic of austerity in art that was mingled afterward philosophies of Lutheranism. This gain permission to greatly influenced Senff, and would be made manifest in his statute throughout his liveliness as with ease as well ahead in his treatises upon teaching painting and drawing.

In 1795, feeling that he’d reached the limit of his progress under Oeser’s supervision, Senff left the Leipzig Academy and traveled to Dresden to continue his studies at the Dresden Art Academy under the tutelage of eminent Swiss portrait player Anton Graff and his colleague, the German painter and draughtsman Christian Leberecht Vogel.

Senff had initially focused on portraiture, but customary relatively few commissions. He eventually turned to engraving, seeing it as a more democratic art form. Some of his best known subjects included Estonians in the assistance of the Russian government, including Count Pyotr Wittgenstein. In Germany at the direction of the 19th century, the Sturm und Drang movement in literature began to shift the keenness of man’s membership to the world and, though Senff would Make images of the movement’s major players (including Friedrich Maximilian Klinger who wrote the stand-in that gave the grow old its name), his play remained quite conservative. At the outset of the movement, his canvasses began to resemble the Biedermeier style whereby, according to art historian Sergey Kuznetsov, “portraits, landscapes and still-lifes were painted afterward equal scrupulousness.” Kuznetsov observations that unlike the burgeoning outfit of Romantic artists of the period, “Senff’s landscapes are extremely purged of feeling, and they focus on the accurate and correct representation of detail.” Senff’s produce a result has been frequently compared to Ivan Khrutsky in Vilnius.

Until 1802, Senff pursued his studies along with play in as a freelance artiste of modest success. In 1803 he was offered a position as join professor of drawing and etching at the recently reopened Universität Dorpat in present-day Tartu, Estonia. He became head of the program in 1818, and worked there until his death. During his tenure at the school, he developed a extra methodology for teaching practical art and illustration that was, at the time, essential for recording research in fields such as biology, physics, engineering, and human anatomy. He compiled a seven-volume textbook taking into consideration his own copper etchings and watercolor plates to tutor illustration and painting techniques to entering students at the Universität Dorpat. Three booklets were dedicated to drawing flowers, which Senff considered an important step for all in learning to paint. He required whatever his students to master the modelling of petals and leaves past moving on to landscape painting and next people. Other portions focused upon the illustration of scientific publications, and many of his extant plates and etchings continue to be used as illustrations in archives books today.

Several of Senff’s pupils that would go on to become world-renowned artists, including August Clara, August Schuch, Friedrich Ludwig von Maydell and August Matthias Hagen.

In accessory to his mentorship of youthful artists, Senff next served as guardian to his nephew Karl Friedrich Knorre, son of Senff’s sister Sophie and the German astronomer Ernst Friedrich Knorre past the latter’s death in 1801. Senff secured the capable young guy a place at the University at the age of fifteen, where he studied similar to scientist Wilhelm Struve in the past going on to found the Nikolayev Astronomical Observatory in 1827.

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