Immanuel Kant

Emanuel Bardou1798

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Bode-Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Immanuel Kant, the most important German philosopher of the eighteenth century, is seen here in the apparel of the Roman republic. The bust is shaped as if made for a herm. The robe is draped over the right shoulder in the manner of a chlamys, and the philosopher’s head faces us frontally. The strands of his thin hair are combed forward. Below his bare brow, his eyes gaze like a seer’s into the future. His mouth is tightly closed. The Berlin bust is the only portrait of Kant that shows the philosopher not in the fashion and hairstyle of the rococo but in the manner of classical antiquity. The hairstyle recalls that of Aristotle in a surviving portrait, to whom Kant is thus implicitly likened. Originally the bust was to have stood on a herm among other philosophers, but it found its way to the workshop of the sculptor Christian Daniel Rauch, who placed it on a column in the open. For Rauch, a pupil of Johann Gottfried Schadow, it served as a model for his own statue of Kant on the equestrian memorial of Frederick the Great on Unter den Linden in Berlin, and for the Kant memorial in Königsberg (Kaliningrad).

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