Herman Major Schirmer

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Herman Major Schirmer (20 June 1845 – 11 April 1913) was a Norwegian architect and historian of art. Born in Kristiania, the son of an architect, he preferred teaching and studying architecture to designing structures, and is hailed as "one of the chief ideologues" of Norwegian romantic nationalism.[1] He was also a diligent writer and Norway's first national antiquary.


Schirmer was born to the architect Heinrich Ernst Schirmer (1814–1887) and his wife Sophie Ottilia Major (1821–61) in Kristiania (now Oslo) on 20 June 1845. His brother was Adolf Schirmer (1850–1930) and his uncle the psychiatrist Herman Wedel Major (1814–54). At the age of 15, Schirmer was educated in drawing by the German-Norwegian architect and painter Franz Wilhelm Schiertz. Two years later, he worked in his father's architect office, before he in 1866 received a travel grant from the government. He travelled to Germany to study architecture and history of art at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. He also travelled to Italy, Switzerland and Sweden in the end of the 1860s.[2][3]

Even though Schirmer was not a productive architect, he did design the Bergens Kreditbank building, a well-known villa at Frognerseteren, a church in Hamar and the Hotel Royal in Oslo.[4] He became most famous through his work at the Royal Drawing School, which school he renamed to Norwegian National Academy of Craft and Art Industry in 1911. Schirmer taught at the school for 39 years, from 1873 to 1912, where had a large influence on architecture in Norway.[2] He notably drew the first draft for the preservation of the Nidaros Cathedral.[5] In 1891, he founded Yngre Arkitektforening ("Younger Architect Association"). He chaired the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments from 1899 to 1911, and published many treatises in the society's yearbook.[2]

On 3 June 1905, he married Annette Magdalene Riis Wiese (1874–1927).[2] Schirmer was a diligent writer who penned Kristkirken i Nidaros ("The Christchurch in Nidaros") and Femti daterede norske bygninger fra middelalderen ("Fifty Dated Norwegian Buildings From the Middle Ages").[4] In 1913, five months before his death, he was appointed the first national antiquary of Norway.[2][5]


  1. ^ Ringbom, Sixten (1987). Stone, style and truth: the vogue for natural stone in Nordic architecture 1880-1910. Suomen Muinaismuistoyhdistys. p. 48. ISBN 978-951-9056-82-1. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Myklebust, Dag (2004). "Herman Schirmer". In Helle, Knut. Norsk biografisk leksikon (in Norwegian). 8. Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  3. ^ Schnitler, C. W. (1926). "Schirmer, Herman Major". In Blangstrup, Christian. Salmonsens Konversationsleksikon (in Danish). XXI (2nd ed.). Copenhagen: J. H. Schultz. pp. 2–3. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Granberg, J. O. (1916). "Herman Major S.". In Westrin, Th. Nordisk familjebok (in Swedish). 24 (revised and illustrated ed.). Stockholm: Nordisk familjeboks förlags aktiebolag. col. 1056. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Schirmers stavkirketegninger digitalisert" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage. Retrieved 2 September 2011.