The Sienna Academy

The Sienna Academy

Painting Therapy

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born in 1749 in Frankfurt. From 1765 to 1771, In accordance with his father's wishes, he studied law in Leibzig and Strasbourg. During his time at university he began to earn recognition with his poems and other writings. When he returned to Frankfurt he practised law but continued to work on his career as a poet and writer. In 1773 his dramas, based on sixteenth-century models, were influential in the new Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) movement.

Goethe started to receive a lot of attention and recognition and in 1775 he moved to Weimar at the invitation of Duke Charles Augustus. He soon became an indispensable minister in the Duke's court. Although there were to be several lengthy travels to Italy, which spurred his classical interests and learning, Goethe was to remain a fixture in Weimar and at the centre of a remarkable literary circle for the remainder of his life, almost sixty years in all. There, despite his obligations as a minister of the state, Goethe wrote a prodigious amount. Faust, one of his best-known works took him most of his life to complete. He had started to compose Faust about the age of twenty-three, but only finally finished the second part in 1832, just before his death.

Goethe considered his scientific writings and in particular his research on colour to be his most important contribution to the world. He produced a theory of colour that was based on years of personal observation. He used prisms, lenses, and various vessels to demonstrate how and under what conditions colour could arise. All this was carefully documented under various headings: physical colours; physiological colours; chemical colours; relation to other pursuits; effect of colour with reference to moral associations and other general characteristics. These scientific works run to some fourteen volumes. By the time of his death, he was seen as the greatest writer that Germany had ever produced.

> Liane Collot d’Herbois

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