Karl Friedrich Schinkel

A Universal Man

Edited by Michael Snodin

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Karl Friedrich Schinkel was one of the most brilliant and influential architects and designers of the nineteenth century, not only in his native Germany, where his great buildings still dominate Berlin, but throughout the world. In this beautiful book distinguished authorities present, for the first time in English, a general review of Schinkel’s astonishing achievements.


Schinkel was skilled not only in architecture and design but in other art forms as well. His paintings of historical landscapes and his theater sets and panoramas were key expressions of German romanticism—and his earliest architecture, which was both Gothic and patriotic, also took up this theme. His architectural style soon changed, however, as he began to create grand neo-classical-style buildings in Berlin. During this period he also designed the buildings and furniture of the royal palaces in Berlin and in nearby Potsdam, devising classical garden and architectural complexes that remain among the most beautiful ever created.


A true child of his time, Schinkel combined a romantic passion with a deep sense of the practical and technical. From 1826, influenced by British industrial building, he developed a revolutionary new brick architecture that anticipated modernism in its rejection of historical precedent and its use of structure. And equally forward-looking was his successful state-sponsored scheme to improve the design of manufactured goods emerging from the new Prussian industries.


This survey of Schinkel’s extraordinary career is enriched by photographs of his buildings and art objects and reproductions of many of his brilliant drawings and paintings, all accompanied by detailed commentary. The book serves as the catalogue for an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

"Schinkel has something for everybody. . . . Yet, although there is a huge literature on him in German, there has been little to read about Schinkel in English. Now that void is at long last filled by this sumptuously illustrated catalogue. . . . The introductory essays give a full picture of this 'universal man'. . . . This first full study in English of a very great German architect is a worthy and necessary thing."—Gavin Stamp, Architects' Journal

"A catalogue of the superb exhibition held at London's Victoria and Albert Museum to mark the sesquicentennial of the German master's death, this first general book in English on the greatest nineteenth-century architect is a major event in itself. The Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel saw his calling in the broadest possible terms, and no design discipline escaped his interest. This collection of essays by various scholars addresses several aspects of his achievement. . . . Excellent new photos of the architect's surviving structures in and near Berlin—like the Altes Museum—are supplemented by vintage views of the many Schinkel buildings destroyed in World War II. This well-rounded introduction fills an inexplicable gap and opens the public's awareness to a culture hero of epic proportions."—Martin Filler, New York Times Book Review

"Every age selects its architectural heroes. During the postmodernist 1980s, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, the great Prussian neoclassicist of the early nineteenth century, re-emerged as a focal point of study, discussion, and emulation. Karl Friedrich Schinkel: A Universal Man . . . is an excellent introduction. . . . With its splendid and numerous illustrations, it exemplifies the far-reaching range of Schinkel's talent and thought."—Benjamin Forgey, Washington Post Book World

"A long-awaited and captivating tribute to the master of nineteenth-century German Neoclassical architecture and decoration"—M. O., Elle Decor

"This book goes a long way to not only putting north German structural design back on the cultural map, but providing us with a picture of Schinkel and an informative appreciation of his wide ranging work. . . . [It] is a splendid book which has so much to tell us about this remarkable, undoubtedly universal, and certainly civilised man."—Corin Hughes Stanton, New Civil Engineer

"A superb record of the Schinkel exhibition at the Victoria & Albert museum."—David Watkin, Architects' Journal Review

"The first account in English of the many-faceted achievements of an architect long admired, but until now only partially understood. . . . [A] stimulating journey, alongside the restless, enquiring mind of the genius."—Gillian Darley, Architects' Journal Review

"An important catalogue which enabled Michael Snodin to bring together a team of most distinguished German historians to give detailed accounts of Schinkel's career as the architect of what are still some of Berlin's most distinguished buildings, and also his work as an industrial, interior and stage designer."—David F. Cheshire, New Library World

"The architecture, paintings, watercolors, interior, furniture, and even fabrics of Schinkel are well illustrated in this handsome and extensively captioned catalogue for the recent show at London's Victoria and Albert Museum."—Suzanne Stephens, Oculus

"Provides an introduction to aspects of Schinkel's work, along with a detailed catalog of 160 drawings, prints, and engravings ranging throughout his career. All are beautifully illustrated, many in color; and these are supplemented by large pre-1940 photographs of his buildings and a number of recent views. . . . There is no comparable book in English. Recommended."—Choice

"Richly illustrated by color plates, black-and-white drawings, notebook sketches, and architectural designs. . . . All in all, this is the first attempt in the English language to present a reasonably comprehensive study of Schinkel and his work, and Michael Snodin and his collaborators are to be congratulated on the result."—Gordon A. Craig, New York Review of Books 

"Michael Snodin . . . who organized the show and edited the excellent catalogue, is to be congratulated. . . . The catalogue is in fact the first major collection of writings in English of Schinkel and it is invaluable."—Colin Amery, Financial Times

Winner of the 1993 International Architecture Book Award in Architectural History given by the American Institute of Architects
ISBN: 9780300051667
Publication Date: January 27, 1993
230 pages, 9 1/2 x 11
100 b/w + 75 color illus.