In this exhibition, the Alte Nationalgalerie will focus on one of the most fascinating artists of the first half of the nineteenth century, August Kopisch (1799–1853). Like nobody else, this artist combined painting, poetry, scholarship, translation, folklore, music, sculpture, the organization of a festival, joy in experimentation, the spirit of research, and inventiveness.
The universal genius, born in Breslau, made a name for himself when he discovered the Blue Grotto on the island of Capri in 1826, since then a tourist magnet. One of his major achievements was his linguistically brilliant translation of Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” But his greatest claim to fame is the poem “Die Heinzelmännchen,” still beloved today.
Kopisch’s creative gifts were recognized in his childhood. In Breslau, his comprehensive humanist education was combined with instruction in drawing and he already wrote promising poetry. His path led through art academies in Prague, Vienna, and Dresden to Naples, where he was inspired by the colorful people and the play of hues over the Gulf of Naples to engage in writing folkloric poetry, painting, and inventing. With painter Ernst Fries, he discovered the Blue Grotto on Capri while swimming, and was in demand as a knowledgeable guide among travelers, participating in Neapolitan folk life. As of 1833, Kopisch was a well-known figure in Berlin, keeping the company of writers and artists, consorting with the likes of Alexander von Humboldt, Friedrich Wilhelm Schelling and the Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who named him an official art consultant after his coronation in 1840.