Schillerhaus in Gohlis - Leipzig



    Pen and Ink Sketch - Erwin Weber - 1975


I made this pen and ink drawing at the site in Leipzig, where Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller lived in 1787 and wrote his dramatic poem, "Don Carlos". The house is located in Gohlis, a suburb of Leipzig, which at the time was situated behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany.

The sketch was a gift of the artist to Dr. J. Thomas Tredway, president of Augustana College, in recognition of his scholarly achievements not only in the written and spoken word of the German language but also becoming an expert in the field of German Culture and Civilization, in particular, German History and Literature. Recently, Tredway turned over the sketch of the Schillerhaus to the College Collection.

Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805), the son of a physician in the military, became an influential German dramatist, historian, and democratic philosopher. He wrote blank verse Sturm and Drang plays: "Don Carlos" (1787), a trilogy on Wallenstein (1799), "Maria Stuart" (1800), "Maid of Orleans" and "Wilhelm Tell" (1804). Beethoven's 9th Symphony uses his "Ode to Joy". Schiller and Goethe lived and worked together in Weimar during the Classical Period in German Literature from 1795 until Schiller's death in 1805. In a crypt erected in neo-classical style in 1825 at the Frauentor Cemetery in Weimar, Schiller and Goethe lie in coffins next to one another along with their friend and benefactor, Carl August, the Grand Duke.

On March 16, 1995, the Bavarian State Actor's Guild had a three and one-half hour premier based on Schiller's dramatic poem "Don Carlos", with the question. "How can happiness and passion of the individual be in harmony with the engagement and accomplishment of political ideals? The play takes place at the court of King Philip of Spain during the 16th century. Crown prince Don Carlos is consumed in secret love for his stepmother Elisabeth who was promised once to be the wife of Don, however, was married to his father, King Philip of Spain. Philip, who was disgusted with the hypocritical atmosphere at his court, looked for a human being he could trust and encounters Marquis Posa, the best friend of Don Carlos. Posa, with the help of his trusted position at the court of King Philip, wanted to free the Netherlands from the yoke of Spain. In order to prevent the threatening danger of the discovery of love letters which his friend Don had once written to Elisabeth, he became involved in a hopeless entanglement of intrigue. Posa saw only one possibility to resolve the dilemma , namely, to sacrifice his life for his friend, Don Carlos, and is shot on orders of the king. Elisabeth urges Carlos to renounce his love for her and carry out Posa's wish to liberate the Netherlands. King Philip, who was disappointed with Posa, hands over his son to the great Inquisitor, the chief justice of the Inquisition which is a court set up by the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages to seek out and punish heresy. Punishments for the guilty ranged from penance and fines to banishment, imprisonment, and death by fire.

The pen and ink sketch of the Schiller House in Gohlis, dated 1975, was presented to Dr. J. Thomas Tredway, President of Augustana College since 1975, as a gift by the artist. During that year, Tredway was elected the seventh president in the 137-year history of Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. He had been a member of the college faculty since 1964 and professor of history since 1971. He is an effective speaker, administrator, scholar, and authority on Church History and Western Civilization, which he has taught to freshmen since he began his duties as president of the college. He says it keeps him in touch with campus life. What makes him so successful as president for the last twenty-two years is the fact that he came from the classroom. He has an understanding and a deep respect for students and faculty. He regularly reads three to five books a week and reads them in Swedish, German, French, Spanish and English. Recently, Tredway presented my sketch of the Schiller House to the College Collection.