Leonhard Kern

Leonhard Kern

German sculptor
Date of Birth: 22.11.1588
Country: Germany

  1. Biography of Leonhard Kern
  2. Early Career and Travels
  3. Family Life and Work
  4. Style and Recognition
  5. Kern and the Court of Brandenburg

Biography of Leonhard Kern

Leonhard Kern was a German sculptor and one of the most prominent sculptors of 17th-century Germany. He was born in the family of a master stonemason in the small German principality of Goggenlohe, in the present-day federal state of Baden-Württemberg. He studied at the gymnasium in the city of Erlangen.

Early Career and Travels

From 1603 to 1609, Kern studied the art of sculpture in the workshop of his older brother, Michael Kern. In 1613-1614, he embarked on a study trip to Italy, followed by a visit to North Africa, where he lived for 2 years in Rome and studied Italian sculpture of the 16th century. After passing through Ljubljana and Gornji Grad (where Kern's first datable work, an altar in the local cathedral, is known from 1613), the sculptor returned to his homeland.

Family Life and Work

After returning, Kern married Amalia Zölner, the daughter of a civil servant, who bore him at least 14 children. Initially, Kern worked in his brother's workshop, but later he moved to Heidelberg to the court of Elector Frederick V of the Palatinate. Here, he created a monumental group sculpture for the Nuremberg Town Hall. However, after the Palatinate entered the Thirty Years' War, Kern left Heidelberg in 1620 and moved to Schwäbisch Hall, where he opened a sculptural workshop producing small-scale figures of a wide range. In addition to the usual themes - mythological and religious, as well as genre scenes, the sculptor also depicted the horrors and sufferings brought by the war, from which Schwäbisch Hall also suffered.

Style and Recognition

Stylistically, Kern represented the classical-realistic direction of German Baroque. He often used ivory as a material. Kern's works are distinguished by the subtlety of their plasticity and the skill of expressing characters. The sculptor's creativity earned him recognition from his contemporaries and made him financially secure. Many of his works were found in princely and royal private collections, as well as in the largest museums in Europe.

Kern and the Court of Brandenburg

In 1648, Kern was appointed court sculptor to the Elector of Brandenburg, after a long separation.