Adolf von Hildebrand

Dates1847 - 1921
BornMarburg, Germany
DiedMunich, Germany

After studying in Munich, Adolf von Hildebrand first traveled to Italy in 1867 and there met German philosophers and art theorists whose aesthetic theories greatly inspired him. Florentine Renaissance sculpture became his point of reference, and in 1872 he moved to Italy. Not until an 1884 exhibition in Berlin did his work come to the attention of a wider public in Germany. Seven years later, Hildebrand received his first large commission, for a fountain in Munich, whose completion brought him general recognition and numerous commissions. From then until the beginning of World War I, he divided his time between Florence and Munich. Hildebrand's classicizing style stood in marked contrast to his contemporaries' naturalism. Believing that the sculptor's goal was to allow forms to emerge from the block, he was strongly influenced by Michelangelo. Hildebrand's 1893 essay, Das Problem der Form (The Problem of Form), asserted that truth is revealed in form, with subject matter of relatively minor importance. This idea and others had immense impact on the formalist aesthetics of twentieth-century Modernism. In addition to his many public commissions, Hildebrand made many sculptures of his family, including one owned by the Getty Museum.