This website is dedicated to the sculptor Adolf von Hildebrand (1847-1921), who lived and worked in Italy and Germany. From the 1880s to the end of World War I, he was considered the most important German sculptor, a rival of Rodin, with whom he nevertheless shared an important aim: the reduction of psychological and not strickly necessary detail. In contrast with Rodin, his elder by seven years, whom he much admired, Hildebrand aspired towards the clear, classical and perfected form, especially that of the human body, whereas his elder tended to opt for the torso, the unfinished ("nonfinito"). Consequently, Hildebrand generally created not only the sculpture but also paid a lot of attention to its framing in a private or urban context.

In 1867, Hildebrand went to Rome. There he met and befriended the painter Hans von Marées and the art theorist Konrad Fiedler. The latter, stimulated by the company of his friends and numerous discussions, searched for and found elements to substantiate the theoretical cognition of the artist's creative power which he expounded in significant essays. He stimulated Hildebrand to do the same, especially with regard to his own sculptural work. The result was Hildebrand's still much discussed and valued book: "Das Problem der Form in der bildenden Kunst" (The problem of Form in Painting and Sculpture). It primarily considers the physiological and psychological genesis of the three-dimensional work of art according to the laws of the human eye. On the other hand, the book represents a form of initiation for young sculptors and is founded on Hildebrand's own experience of the creative process. "Das Kunstwerk muss augengerecht sein" (The work of art has to do justice to the eye) was how the art historian Heinrich Woelfflin expressed the essence of the book.

Fiedler was the first client to commission something from Hildebrand in 1870: his portrait and the 'Trinkender Knabe' (boy drinking, now in the Nationalgalerie Berlin). Three years later, Hildebrand and Marées worked together on the "Zoologische Station" in Naples. In 1873, Hildebrand settled in Florence, where he lived and worked for the next twenty years. He married there and produced portraits (mainly commissioned), statues, reliefs and tombstones. He worked as an autodidact, learning from the old masters.

In 1889, Hildebrand won the competition for a monumental fountain which was to be built in the centre of Munich (Wittelsbacher Brunnen). He was commissioned to execute the work, provided that he settled in Munich, which he did, without giving up his Florentine house. Seven years later he was asked to take over the direction of the sculpture class at the Münchner Kunstakademie. In his contract he stipulated that he would teach advanced students how to carve stone, which was a skill he superbly mastered. He refused any form of salary except for the money to buy the stones. A slight stroke put an end to his activity at the academy in 1910.

During his time in Florence, Hildebrand created a number of statues (Einzelfiguren) often in 3/4 life size. Later, in Munich, he made statues and reliefs only on commission, namely the ones for fountains, but also for tombs in architectural settings. About 25 reliefs (Reliefs) from the Florentine period remain, some of them in his Florentine house. They often represent couples, sometimes human and animal groups (e.g. Leda).

Hildebrand was one of the best portraitists of his time. We owe him about 250 portraits (Porträts), including 84 reliefs. The personalities who sat for him were great scientists or inventors, princes, artists and musicians.

Except for early statues and the "Das Problem der Form..." treatise, his five monumental urban fountains (Brunnen) were the achievements that sealed his fame. Moreover, he designed 15 monuments, which he always tried to harmoniously insert within the surrounding town or landscape. The same can be said for the numerous tombs and mausoleums (Denkmale und Grabmale) he conceived. Hildebrand's lifelong interest and gift for architecture and urban ensembles determined many of his works, particularly the fountains and other monuments (Architektur). He produced a considerable number of architectural projects, most of which however, were never executed.

A small bibliography (Literatur) and a list of both the places where some of Hildebrand's sculptures can be viewed as well as the museums which house his works (Standorte) are some of the other features of this website.