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Sievers, Johannes

    Full Name: Sievers, Johannes

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 27 June 1880

    Date Died: 1969

    Place Born: Berlin, Germany

    Place Died: Berlin, Germany

    Home Country/ies: Germany

    Subject Area(s): architecture (object genre) and sculpture (visual works)

    Institution(s): Kunstabteilung des Auswärtigen Amt


    Ministerial official and private scholar who specialized in the works of architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Johannes Sievers was born in Berlin to the decoration painter Carl Georg Wilhelm Sievers (1834-1891) in 1880. His father was responsible for many of the rooms of nobles. His mother was Luise Wittfeld, Moers (Sievers) (1843,-1903). From 1903-1906, he studied art history, philosophy, and archaeology under several different instructors, including  Karl Voll, Wesse, Arthur Haseloff, and Heinrich Wölfflin. He completed his dissertation on the contributions of Pieter Aertsen to Dutch art in the 16th century. He married a Jewish woman, Herma Schiffer in 1907. During his years of study, he also completed various study trips throughout Europe, the United States, and East Asia. From 1906-1908 he served as a volunteer at the Kaiser Friedrich Museum of Prints and Drawings, part of the Berlin State Museums. In 1908, he assumed the role of a scientific assistant in the Modern Department. From 1912-1918, Sievers served as an Art Consultant at the Prussian Ministry of Culture under the head of the department Friedrich Schmidt-Ott (1860-1956), although his role there would become purely titular as a result of his military service in World War I in Ghent, Belgium from 1915-1918. Returning from his service in Ghent, Sievers became Legation Councilor for the Kunstabteilung des Auswärtigen Amt (Art Affairs in the Cultural Department of the Foreign Office) in Germany. His duties in this position varied; notable accomplishments include his restoration of monuments, furnishing of several former Hohenzollern palaces, and the conception and coordination of exhibitions of German art abroad. He was named professor in 1918 as well. He taught and worked until the new Nazi government forced an abrupt leave of absence on him in 1933. This lasted until 1937, when he was be forced to retire as a representative of the Weimar Republic for his steadfast commitment to the promotion of modern art in Germany and his wife’s “non-Aryan” descent. Thereafter, he became a private scholar. It was during this time that Paul Ortwin Rave asked Sievers to write several volumes of Rave’s corpus of Schinkel’s work, beginning 1942 with Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Bauten für den Prinzen Karl von Preußen. A final book on Schinkel, Das Vorbild des »Neuen Pavillons« von Karl Friedrich Schinkel im Schloßpark Charlottenburg, 1960, was an independent publication.

    During his time working at the Foreign Office, Sievers sought to both restore Germany’s historic artistic and architectural hallmarks and promote modern German art movements. Of equal importance, he was a staunch advocate of showcasing German art around the world.

    Selected Bibliography

    • “Die (Wieder-)Erӧffnung der kӧniglichen Nationalgalerie zu Berlin.” Kunstkronik (1906-1907); 129-137;
    • Bilder aus Indien. Berlin, 1911;
    • Die Radierungen und Steindrucke von Käthe Kollwitz innerhalb der Jahre 1890 bis 1912. Ein beschreibendes Verzeichnis. Dresden, 1913;
    • Das Palais des Prinzen Karl von Preußen, erbaut von K.F. Schinkel. Berlin, 1928;
    • Das Palais des Prinzen August von Preußen. Berlin, 1936;
    • Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Bauten für den Prinzen Karl von Preußen. Berlin 1942 (Karl Friedrich Schinkel 4);
    • Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Die Möbel. Berlin 1950. Karl Friedrich Schinkel 14);
    • Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Bauten für die Prinzen August, Friedrich und Albrecht von Preussen. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin. (Karl Friedrich Schinkel 2). Berlin, 1954 ;
    • Die Arbeiten von K.F. Schinkel für Prinz Wilhelm, späteren König von Preußen. (Karl Friedrich Schinkel 3). Berlin 1955 ;
    • “Das Vorbild des ‘Neuen Pavillons’ von Karl Friedrich Schinkel im Schloßpark Charlottenburg”.  Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 23 (1960): 227-241.


    • Wendland, Ulrike. Biographisches Handbuch deutschsprachiger Kunsthistoriker im Exil: Leben und Werk der unter dem Nationalsozialismus verfolgten und vertriebenen Wissenschaftler. Munich: Saur, 1999, vol. 2, pp. 630-635.

    Contributors: Paul Kamer


    Paul Kamer. "Sievers, Johannes." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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