Carl (aka Karl) Wilhelm Kolbe the Elder

German , 1757 - 1835

The engraver Carl Wilhelm Kolbe began his artistic career late in life, not enrolling in the Academy of Berlin until 1793, where he was taught by Johann Wilhelm Meil. Two years later, Kolbe was granted full membership in the Academy. Following his formal training, Kolbe moved to Dessau and was employed by Duke Leopold III. Friedrich Franz von Anhalt-Dessau. Excepting a two year sojurn in Zurich, making etchings after the drawings of Salomon Gessner, Kolbe lived out his life as a teacher of art and French in the court of Duke Leopold in Dessau.

Though he worked as a painter and engraver, Kolbe is best known for his etchings featuring idyllic landscapes. During his life, he was called “Eichen (Oak) Kolbe” because of his fascination with depicting trees, and “Kraut (plant) Kolbe,” also after his nature images. His landscapes prefigured and influenced the Romantic style in Germany. While at the court of Duke Leopold, Kolbe was a teacher of Ferdinand Olivier, who later would become a figure in the Nazarene community of Romantic artists. Kolbe’s etchings were also admired by Phillip Otto Runge, a founding member of the Nazarenes.

Carl Wilhelm Kolbe the Elder is the uncle of the little known German painter Carl Wilhelm Kolbe the Younger (1781-1853).
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