Karl Ludwig Fernow

Carl Ludwig Fernow ( born November 19, 1763 in Blumenhagen; † December 4, 1808 in Weimar ) was a German art historian, linguist and librarian in Weimar.


Fernow was the youngest son of Christoph Gutsknechts Fernow († 1794) and his wife Dorothea Agnes Bentz († 1771). After a pharmacist teaching in Anklam, he started in the Rathsapotheke in Lübeck to work. Here he met the painter Asmus Carstens know, the Fernows supported artistic inclinations. In Ratzeburg and Ludwig Fernow lust earned his living by drawing lessons and portrait drawing, but he also wrote poems and short texts for the theater. He came to Jena and Weimar, and heard the lectures of the philosopher Carl Leonhard Reinhold, the Fernow decided promoted and helped that he was able to accompany the writer Jens Immanuel Baggesen on a trip to Switzerland and Italy. A change in the itinerary led to close contacts with the Klagenfurt circle around Franz Paul Herbert and Johann Benjamin Erhard, we traveled even early 1794 jointly northern Italy. End of 1794 Fernow went to Rome, founded there in 1795 a reading society for working in Rome German artists and scholars who met here in very large numbers, and was subsequently in contact with others to Friedrich Weinbrenner, Johann Gottfried Seume and Wilhelm von Humboldt. Fernow held from 1794 to the summer of 1803 in Italy, especially in Rome, on and supplied in this period, the then leading cultural magazine, the New Germans Mercury, with numerous, highly acclaimed art-historical and literary-historical contributions. In the time of the Repubblica Romana 1798-1799 he also reported anonymously edited by Ernst Ludwig Posselt Latest world customer, the forerunner of the later Allgemeine Zeitung, from the revolutionary Rome. In Rome he met his girlfriend Maria Theresa Fini, with whom he had two sons and accompanied him in 1803 to Jena and Weimar. She died in September 1808.

1803 Fernow was through the mediation of Karl August Böttiger professor in Jena, where he arrived in September. In 1804 he became successor Hunt 's librarian of the mother of the reigning Duke of Weimar, the Duchess Anna Amalia. So he came in constant contact with Goethe, Schiller and Wieland.

As an art theorist Fernow had a great ability of representation. Although Friedrich Schiller railed in a letter to Goethe Fernow and his superior in methodology Hegel: " Why not search to bring Hegel and Fernow closer together, I think it would have to go, to help the one by the other. In dealing with Fernow Hegel must think on a teaching method to communicate to him his idealism, and Fernow has to go out of its flatness. ". But Fernow occurred just at this time shortly after his return from Italy in greater contact with the so-called " Weimar art lovers ", so Goethe and Johann Heinrich Meyer who saw his precise knowledge of the art and literary history of Italy and joint scientific and literary projects use wanted. As his letters lead vividly, Fernow example, had been planned since 1795 a handbook of aesthetics and, as a detailed index from February 1799 is to develop begun. He brought this and many other projects with Weimar. By Carl Ludwig Fernow come about 2000 Italian books today Duchess Anna Amalia Library, which he imported from Rome in 1803 to Weimar.

In Weimar, developed a close friendship with Johanna Schopenhauer, Mother of by Fernow encouraged to study young Arthur Schopenhauer developed in addition to the use of prominent contemporaries. Their social circle in the House of Councillor Ludecus at the Theatre Square Fernow visited regularly. He published his Italian grammar for German (1804 ) and an impressive series of Italian editions of classical authors ( Dante, Petrarch, Tasso, Ariosto ). In a three-volume collection of essays Roman Studies ( 1806/ 08) he gathered his most important essays and studies, in revised form, on topics such as the beauty of art, the landscape painting or even the dialects of the Italian and the improvisers.

Lively was greeted Fernows Biography Asmus Jacob Carstens life of the artist, a contribution to art history of the eighteenth century (1806 ). It emphasizes the Fernow self-determination of the artistic process. It was necessary that the artist inventive new characters and it was expanding the sphere of artistic ideal. Caused a stir his critical study of the then Roman art scene dominant sculptor Antonio Canova, which appeared in the first volume of Roman Studies, 1806. After participating in Goethe's writing Winckelmann and his century (1805 ) Fernow edited together with Heinrich Johann Joachim Winckelmann Meyer 's collected works. It should be his last project. In the night of 4 December 5, 1808, he died. Two years later published Johanna Schopenhauer Carl Ludwig Fernow 's Life ( 1810), the reigning Duke Carl August dedicated. Fernows library bought on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe on behalf of the Duke, of which the orphaned sons were exposed to an education allowance. From the collection of his engravings acquired Goethe 1809, the most remarkable pieces, mostly after paintings by the late Renaissance and Mannerism, for itself The collection of drawings by Asmus Carstens, the Fernow had brought over the Alps, was already a few years earlier for the ducal art collections been purchased.

Fernow was a member of the Masonic Lodge Amalia in Weimar.


  • Asmus Jakob Carstens life of the artist. A contribution to the history of art of the eighteenth century. Leipzig 1806.
  • Roman studies. 3 vols Zurich from 1806 to 1808.
  • Johann Joachim Winckelmann's collected works. Walthersche Hofbuchhandlung, Dresden from 1808 to 1825.
  • Italian language teaching for German. 1804.
  • Customs and culture paintings of Rome. With the portraits of Cardinal Ruffo and nine other coppers. Perthes, Gotha 1802 ( published anonymously ).
  • Francesco represented by C. L. Fernow Petrarca. In addition to the poet's life and verbose output directories. Edited by Ludwig Hain. Altenburg & Leipzig 1818.
  • Roman letters to Johann Pohrt 1793-1798. Edited by Herbert von Einem and Rudolf Pohrt. Berlin 1944.
  • Rome is a world in itself. Letters from 1789 to 1808. 2 vols Edited by Margrit Glaser and Harald exchange. Göttingen 2013, ISBN 978-3-8353-1314-9.