Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von

BORN 28 Aug 1749, Frankfurt am Main, Hessen: Hirschgraben - DIED 22 Mar 1832, Weimar, Thüringen
GRAVE LOCATION Weimar, Thüringen: Historischer Friedhof (Alter Friedhof, Friedhof vor dem Frauentor), Poseckscher Garten (Fürstengruft)

Son of the imperial councillor Johann Caspar Goethe. From 1765 he studied law in Leipzig, but in bored him and he spent much of his time in society. He lived a wild life and afther three years he returned to Frankfurt with a hemorrhage of the lungs and a tumor on the neck. After he recovered, in 1770 he continued his law studies in Strasbourg.

In 1772 the son of a preacher named Johann Jerusalem committed suicide. This event was the inspiration for Goethe's "Die Leiten des jungen Werthers" (1774, translated as "Sorrows of Young Werther").

In Sep 1775 Duke Karl August invited him to Weimar, where he was offered a permanent situation as privy councillor at the court in 1779. This appointment resulted in a scandal, since Goethe was no nobleman. Goethe became the friend and companion of the Duke and was became the rising star of society in Weimar.

In 1786 he travelled to Italy for two years. This experience made him feel like reborn. In Rome he stayed with the painter Tischbein, with whom he also travelled in Italy.

Back in Germany he met Christiane Vulpius in 1788. She went to live with him and bore him five children. In 1789 Goethe became a member of the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts and in 1790 he travelled to Italy for the second time. In Venice he studied art, but this visit was a dissapointment for Goethe, whose love for Italy soon cooled down.

He became the director of the new theatre in Weimar and in that position he was more visible for the citizens. His famous friendship with Schiller started in 1796. They first met in 1794, but after they saw each other again in 1796 a close friendship ensued that only ended with Schiller's death in 1805. Schiller stimulated Goethe's creativity and the latter returned to poetry. Meanwhile, Schiller wrote his great works "Wallenstein" and "Maria Stuart".

After Schiller died Goethe completely lost his interest in literature for a while. The French army ransacked Weimar in 1806 and in these troubled days he finally married Christiane on 19 Oct 1806.

On 2 Oct 1808 he visited Napoleon, who resided in Erfurt at the time. Napoleon told Goethe he had read Werther about seven times and invited him to Paris. A few days later they met again in Weimar. After Napoleon's defeat in Russia he travelled through Weimar during the night of 15 Dec 1812 and he sent his greetings to Goethe.

Goethe was 81 years old when he completed the second part of his dramatic "Faust" on 22 Jul 1831. He had started working on "Faust" 57 years earlier. He died in March of the next year in Weimar.

• Son: Goethe, Julius August Walter
• Wife: Vulpius, Christiane (1806-1816, Weimar: Jakobskirche)

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29/10/1786Goethe arrives in Rome. He stayed with the painter Tischbein. 
12/7/1788Goethe meets Christiane Vulpius for the first time. She spoke to him at the Park an der Ilm in Weimar on behalf of her brother, the author Christian Vulpius. A long affair resulted and in 1806 they would finally marry. [Vulpius, Christian August][Vulpius, Christiane]
2/10/1808Goethe on audience with Napoleon at the palace in Erfurt. It was the first meeting between the two and Talleyrand, Berthier and Savary were there as well. When he was first invited in 1806 Goethe had excused himself for health reasons and during Napoleon's second visit to Weimar, Goethe was in Karlsbad. Napoleon spoke to Goethe about "Die Leiden des jüngen Wethers" and Goethe observed that the emperor knew it very well. [Napoleon I Bonaparte]
6/10/1808Goethe meets Napoleon during the Court Ball in Weimar. It was their second meeting, after Napoleon had received him in Erfurt four days before. Napoleon invited Goethe to come to Paris to write a Caesar tragedy. In his opinion there was no good work yet on this subject. On 14 Oct 1808 Goethe received the Légion d'Honneur. [Napoleon I Bonaparte]
0/7/1812Beethoven and Goethe meet in Teplice. Both were in that city at the time and Bettina von Arnim arranged their first meeting. They saw each other several more times during the next days. [Beethoven, Ludwig van]
15/12/1812Napoleon passes through Weimar on his way back from Russia. It happened during the night and he sent his greetings to Goethe. [Napoleon I Bonaparte]
29/7/1814Johann Wolfgang Goethe arrives in Wiesbaden. He stayed in Hotel Adler before he moved to Hotel Bären where his friend C.F. Zelter stayed as well. Het met many people in Wiesbaden and he was often invited by Friedrich August von Nassa to dine at Schloss Biebrich. 
4/8/1814Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is visited by Johann Jacob von Willemer and his stepdaughter Marianne in Wiesbaden. Goethe knew him for a long time and Willemer's stepdaughter Marianne Jung was with him. Within a short time Willemer would marry Marianne, allthough he had formally adopted her. A secret love affair between Goethe and Marianne would develop afterwards. [Willemer, Marianne von]
15/8/1823Anne Milder-Hauptmann performs in Marienbad for Goethe. Goethe wrote afterwards that she managed to make four small songs big and the remembrance of her performance brought tears into his eyes. [Milder-Hauptmann, Anna]
20/10/1828Nöggerath dines with Goethe. He was on his way back to Bonn from the Verein der Naturforscher in Berlin and he was very welcome. He told Goethe about the mineralogical circumstances in the area around Bonn. [Nöggerath, Johann Jacob]
28/8/1829Goethe's "Faust" is performed in Leipzig. The occasion was Goethe's 80th birthday. Rosalie Wagner played Gretchen to great acclaim. [Marbach, Johanna Rosalie]
12/5/1945The Coffins of Goethe and Schiller are returned to the Fürstengruft in Weimar. Gauleiter Fritz Sauckel had them transported to Jena and ordered to blow them up when the allied troops would arrive. This was avoided. [Schiller, Friedrich von]


Temporary replica of Goethe's garden house, only a few hundred meters away from the original in Weimar.
Picture by Androom (30 Apr 1999)


The coffins of Goethe and Schiller in the Fürstengruft at the Friedhof vor dem Frauentor in Weimar.
Picture by Androom (30 Apr 1999)


The statue of Goethe and Schiller in Weimar.
Picture by Androom (30 Apr 1999)


Goethe's garden house in Weimar.
Picture by Androom (05 Feb 2005)


The house where Goethe visited Lavater in Zürich at the Obere Zäune 11.
Picture by Androom (18 Aug 2005)


The statue of Goethe at the Burggarten, Vienna.
Picture by Androom (20 Aug 2007)


The Goethe museum at Ilmenau.
Picture by Androom (05 Mar 2009)


Statue of Goethe at the Villa Borghese Park, Rome.
Picture by Androom (25 Jan 2010)


Goethe Memorial at the Schloss-Herrngarten in Darmstadt.
Picture by Androom (28 apr 2013)


Goethe statue at the Goetheplatz, Frankfurt am Main.
Picture by Androom (03 May 2013)


The statue of Goethe and Schiller in Weimar seen from behind.
Picture by Androom (01 Aug 2016)


• Blumenfeld, Carl, Goethe, Taschen, 1986
Biografisch Worterbuch zur Deutsche Geschichte, Francke Verlag, München, 1975
• Gorys, Erhard, Thüringen, Artemis Reis- en Cultuurgids, Kok Lyra, Kampen, 1996
A meeting of genius: Beethoven and Goethe, July 1812 | Gramophone
Goethe's Birth and Education
Goethe in Wiesbaden | Landeshauptstadt Wiesbaden

Goethe, Julius August Walter

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 31 May 2020