1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Schirmer, Friedrich Wilhelm
SCHIRMER, FRIEDRICH WILHELM (1802-1866), German landscape artist, was born in Berlin. As a youth he painted flowers in the royal porcelain factory; afterwards he became a pupil of F. W. Schadow in the Berlin Academy, but his art owed most to Italy. He went to Italy in 1827; his sojourn extended over three years; he became a disciple of his countryman Joseph Koch, who built historic landscape on the Poussins, and is said to have caught inspiration from Turner. In 1831 Schirmer established himself in Berlin in a studio with scholars from 1839 to 1865 he was professor of landscape in the academy.
Schirmer's place in the history of art is distinctive: his sketches in Italy were more than transcripts of the spots; he studied nature with the purpose of composing historic and poetic landscapes. On the completion of the Berlin Museum of Antiquities came his opportunity: upon the walls he painted classic sites and temples, and elucidated the collections by the landscape scenery with which they were historically associated. His supreme aim was to make his art the poetic interpretation of nature and he deemed technique secondary to conception. His pictures appeal to the mind by the ideas they embody, by beauty of form, harmony of line, significance of light and colour. In this constructional landscape German critics discover “motive,” “inner meaning,” “the subjective,” “the ideal.” And Schirmer thus formed a school.