Paul Gerhardt - Encyclopedia

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PAUL GERHARDT (c. 1606-1676), German hymn-writer, was born of a good middle-class family at Grafenhainichen, a small town on the railway between Halle and Wittenberg, in 1606 or 1607 - some authorities, indeed, give the date March 12, 1607, but neither the year nor the day is accurately known. His education appears to have been retarded by the troubles of the period, the Thirty Years' War having begun about the time he reached his twelfth year. After completing his studies for the church he is known to have lived for some years at Berlin as tutor in the family of an advocate named Berthold, whose daughter he subsequently married, on receiving his first ecclesiastical appointment at Mittelwald (a small town in the neighbourhood of Berlin) in 1651. In 1657 he accepted an invitation as "diaconus" to the Nicolaikirche of Berlin; but, in consequence of his uncompromising Lutheranism in refusing to accept the elector Frederick William's "syncretistic" edict of 1664, he was deprived in 1666. Though absolved from submission and restored to office early in the following year, on the petition of the citizens, his conscience did not allow him to retain a post which, as it appeared to him, could only be held on condition of at least a tacit repudiation of the Formula Concordiae, and for upwards of a year he lived in Berlin without fixed employment. In 1668 he was appointed archdeacon of Lubben in the duchy of Saxe-Merseburg, where, after a somewhat sombre ministry of eight years, he died on the 7th of June 1676. Gerhardt is the greatest hymn-writer of Germany, if not indeed of Europe. Many of his best-known hymns were originally published in various church hymn-books, as for example in that for Brandenburg, which appeared in 1658; others first saw the light in Johann Cruger's Geistliche Kirchenmelodien (1649) and Praxis pietatis melica (1656). The first complete set of them is the Geistliche Andachten, published in1666-1667by Ebeling, music director in Berlin. No hymn by Gerhardt of a later date than 1667 is known to exist.

The life of Gerhardt has been written by Roth (1829), by Langbecker (1841), by Schultz (1842), by Wildenhahn (1845) and by Bachmann (1863); also by Kraft in Ersch u. Gruber's Allg. Encycl. (1855). The best modern edition of the hymns, published by Wackernagel in 1843, has often been reprinted. There is an English translation by Kelly (Paul Gerhardt's Spiritual Songs, 1867).

Gericault, Jean Louis Andre Theodore (1791-1824), French painter, the leader of the French realistic school, was born at Rouen in 1791. In 1808 he entered the studio of Charles Vernet, from which, in 1810, he passed to that of Guerin, whom he drove to despair by his passion for Rubens, and by the unorthodox manner in which he persisted in interpreting nature. At the Salon of 1812 Gericault attracted attention by his "Officier de Chasseurs a Cheval" (Louvre), a work in which he personified the cavalry in its hour of triumph, and turned to account the solid training received from Guerin in rendering a picturesque point of view which was in itself a protest against the cherished convictions of the pseudo-classical school. Two years later (1814) he re-exhibited this work accompanied with the reverse picture "Cuirassier blesse" (Louvre), and in both subjects called attention to the interest of contemporary aspects of life, treated neglected types of living form, and exhibited that mastery of and delight in the horse which was a feature of his character. Disconcerted by the tempest of contradictory opinion which arose over these two pictures, Gericault gave way to his enthusiasm for horses and soldiers, and enrolled himself in the mousquetaires. During the Hundred Days he followed the king to Bethune, but, on his regiment being disbanded, eagerly returned to his profession, left France for Italy in 1816, and at Rome nobly illustrated his favourite animal by his great painting "Course des Chevaux Libres." Returning to Paris, Gericault exhibited at the Salon of 1819 the "Radeau de la Meduse" (Louvre), a subject which not only enabled him to prove his zealous and scientific study of the human form, but contained those elements of the heroic and pathetic, as existing in situations of modern life, to which he had appealed in his earliest productions. Easily depressed or elated, Gericault took to heart the hostility which this work excited, and passed nearly two years in London, where the "Radeau" was exhibited with success, and where he executed many series of admirable lithographs now rare. At the close of 1822 he was again in Paris, and produced a great quantity of projects for vast compositions, models in wax, and a horse ecorche, as preliminary to the production of an equestrian statue. His health was now completely undermined by various kinds of excess, and on the 26th of January 1824 he died, at the age of thirty-three.

Gericault's biography, accompanied by a catalogue raisonne of his works, was published by M. C. Clement in 1868.


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