Wieland, Christoph Martin

POET, NOVELIST, LIBRETTIST, TRANSLATOR, PUBLISHER (GERMANY)
BORN 5 Sep 1733, Oberholzheim, Baden-Württemberg (near Biberach an der Riss) - DIED 20 Jan 1813, Weimar, Thüringen
GRAVE LOCATION Ossmannstedt, Thüringen: Ossmannstedt (estate near Weimar)

Christoph Martin Wieland was the son of the theologist Thomas Adam Wieland (1704-1772) and his second wife Marie Christine Rauth (1689-1765). Christoph was educated in Biberach and wrote verses in Latin and German when he was twelve years old. He read numerous classical works and from 1747 he continued his education at the Pietist boarding school at Kloster Berge. There he was influenced by the work F.G. Klopstock. He studied at the University of Erfurt from 1749, but he left Efurt in 1750 and returned to Biberach.

In Biberach he had a love affair with his cousin Sophie Gutermann (the future Sophie von La Roche) and they became engaged. She inspired him to his first major work "Die Natur der Dinge oder die vollkommenste Welt. Ein Lehrgedicht" (1752). In the fall of he entered the University of Tübingen too study law. But he spent most if his time on his poetic work. He abandoned his studies again and in 1752 Johann Jakob Bodmer invited him to Zurich, whose student he became. In 1753 Sophie ended their engagement and married Georg Michael Anton La Roche (1720-1788), who was court councilor in Mainz. Wieland stayed in Switzerland for eight years. In Bern he worked as a private tutor and there met Julie Bondeli, a future friend of Jean Jacques Rousseau. After some hesitation she agreed to become his fiancee in 1759 but soon afterwards he fled from Bern and returned to Biberach.

In 1760 he was elected senator in Biberach an der Riss and he also became a chancellery administrator. In 1761 he started a relationship with Christine Hogel. In 1764 a child was born but marrying a Catholic was unacceptabel to his family and they ended their relationship. In 1765 he married Anna Dorothea von Hillenbrand (1746-1801), the daughter of a merchant from Augsburg. They had seven surviving children.

From 1762 to 1766 Wieland's translations of works by Shakespeare were published and they were very influential to theatre life in Germany. His novel "Geschichte des Agathon" (1766/1767) was a great success. Further novels and poems followed. In 1769 he accepted a teaching position at the University of Erfurt. In 1772 his novel ""Der goldene Spiegel oder die Könige von Scheschian" was published.

In 1772 Duchess Anna Amalia von Sachsen-Weimar called him to Weima for the education of her sons. In 1773 he was slandered by several Sturm und Drang poets including Johann Heinrich Voss and Ernst Theodor Johann Brückner. He was also attacked by Goethe, but after Goethe came to live in Weimar they soon developed a good relationship. As court councilor he enjoyed a fixed salary and when Anna Amalia's son Karl August became the new Duke in 1775 he received a pension. From that time he dedicated himself to his literary activities. From 1773 to 1789 he was the editor of his own literary magazine "Der Teutsche Merkur". In 1780 his romantic poem "Oberon" was published.

He bought the Ossmannstedt estate near Weimar and lived their with his family from 1798. He was visited in 1799 by Sophie von La Roche and her granddaughter Sophie Brentano became a close friend. Sophie Brentano died in 1800 during another visit to Ossmanstedt and was buried there. Another visitor at Ossmannstedt was Heinrich von Kleist, who read him his manuscript of Robert Guiscard. After his wife died in 1801 and the estate had become a financial burden, he sold it in 1803 and returned to Weimar. He continued his literary work and met Napoleon twice. After his death in 1813 he was buried at Ossmanstedt next to his wife and Sophie Brentano.

Related persons
• met Bode, Johann Joachim Christoph
• was a friend of Brentano, Sophie
• has a connection with Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
• had as physician Hufeland, Christoph Wilhelm
• had as physician Huschke, Wilhelm Ernst Christian
• was painted by Jagemann, Ferdinand Karl Christian
• was visited by Kleist, Heinrich von
• admired Klopstock, Friedrich Gottlieb
• was painted by Kügelgen, Gerhard von
• had work illustrated by Ramberg, Johann Heinrich
• met Robinson, Henry Crabb
• was insulted by Voss, Johann Heinrich
• knew Weber, Carl Maria von

Events
28/5/1773Premiere of Anton Schweitzer's "Alceste" at the Hoftheater in Weimar. The libretto for the opera in five actes was written by Christoph Martin Wieland. It was performed by Abel Seyler's troupe. Franzika Romana Koch sang the main role. 
18/12/1796Wilhelm and Caroline Schlegel visit Johann Gottfried Herder in Weimar. Christoph Martin Wieland was there as well. [Schlegel, August Wilhelm von]
2/10/1808Goethe on audience with Napoleon at the palace in Erfurt. It was the first meeting between the two and Christoph Wieland was with him. 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. [Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von][Napoleon I Bonaparte]
6/10/1808Goethe meets Napoleon during the Court Ball in Weimar. It was their second meeting, after Napoleon had received him and Wieland in Erfurt four days before. Wieland was also there on this occasion. 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. [Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von][Napoleon I Bonaparte]

Images

Wieland's tomb at his estate in Ossmanstedt is protected against snow and ice.
Picture by Androom (04 Mar 2009)

 

Bust of Wieland at his estate in Ossmannstedt.
Picture by Androom (04 Mar 2009)

 

Wieland lived from 1797 to 1803 at his estate in Ossmanstedt. There is now a Wieland museum.
Picture by Androom (04 Mar 2009)

 

Wieland lived from 1797 to 1803 at his estate in Ossmanstedt. he was visited there by Heinrich von Kleist. There is now a Wieland museum.
Picture by Androom (04 Mar 2009)

 

The grave of Christoph Martin Wieland and Sophie Brentano at the Wielandsgut, Ossmanstedt.
Picture by Androom (01 Aug 2016)

 

Sources
• Moerman, Josien (ed.), Lexicon Internationale Auteurs, Het Spectrum, Utrecht, 1985
Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909
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Wiener, Charles

Published: 10 Dec 2023
Last update: 10 Dec 2023