Friedrich Drake

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Friedrich Drake, c. 1860s
Victory on top of the Berlin Victory Column
Detail on monument for King Frederick William III of Prussia in Berlin near Brandenburg Gate. 1849

Friedrich Drake (June 23, 1805, Pyrmont – April 6, 1882, Berlin) was a German sculptor, best known for his huge memorial statues.


He was the son of a mechanic and served an apprenticeship as a turner in Minden, afterwards being employed in his father's workshop. While there, he made several clay models to amuse himself. A relative of Christian Daniel Rauch saw them and was impressed, so Drake was given a position in Rauch's Berlin studio.

His first major commission came in 1836. It was for a colossal statue of Justus Möser in the city of Osnabrück and paid his way for the traditional study trip to Italy. With a letter of recommendation from Rauch, he visited Bertel Thorvaldsen and presented him with engravings of his work. He returned to Berlin in 1837 and was appointed to the Prussian Academy of Arts. He quickly set up a workshop of his own, with his brothers Georg and Louis as assistants and his sister Karoline as the housekeeper. Karoline married the painter Friedrich Eduard Meyerheim and, in 1843, Drake married Lisette Schönherr, with whom he had six children.[1]

In 1847, Drake was named a "Royal Professor" and, in 1863, he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Prussian Crown for Arts and Sciences. He became Vice-chancellor of the Academy in 1879.[2] Using his experience as a trained mechanic, he invented a frame that enabled nude models to hold their poses.

During these years, his workshop was constantly busy producing sculptures of many well-known people, including a statue of Philipp Melanchthon in Wittenberg and one of Alexander von Humboldt in Philadelphia to mark the centenary of the Declaration of Independence. He married the Countess Marie of Waldeck in 1859, after his first wife's untimely death.[1]


He executed numerous statues and busts of famous figures, including Lorenz Oken, Leopold von Ranke, Otto von Bismarck and Helmuth von Moltke the Elder. Other works include:


  1. ^ a b Church of the Twelve Apostles, Berlin: Drake's burial place with biography Archived 2014-03-09 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Der Orden pour le Merite für Wissenschaft und Künste. Die Mitglieder des Orden. Band I. Gebr. Mann-Verlag, Berlin 1975, S. 232.

Other sources[edit]

  • Wikisource-logo.svg Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Drake, Friedrich" . Encyclopedia Americana.
  • Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Drake, Friedrich Johann Heinrich" . New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.


External links[edit]