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Combining absolute natural truth with the ideality of character, the colossal portrait busts of German sculptor Christian Daniel Rauch are remarkable for their genuine and ideal portraiture of the individual. Celebrated as the foremost German sculptor of the nineteenth century, Rauch was born on January 2, 1777, at Arolsen, in the Principality of Waldeck, in the Holy Roman Empire. In 1790, Ranch received his first instruction in art from the sculptor Valentin and executed some ornamental work at Arolsen. In 1795 he became an assistant to Johann Christian Ruhl, Court sculptor at Cassel.
After the death of his father in 1797, Rauch abandoned the sculpture temporarily and entered the personal service of King Frederick William lll. of Prussia. This gave him an opportunity of advancing in his art and in 1802 Rauch exhibited his “Sleeping Endymion” and “Artemis” and modeled a bust of Queen Louise in 1803. Provided with a small stipend, Rauch went to Rome in 1804.
During his six years' stay at Rome, Rauch's art was chiefly influenced by Thorwaldsen and by the antique. Among these early works were reliefs of “Hippolytus and Phedra,” “Mars and Venus wounded by Diomedes”, and busts of King of Prussia and Queen Louise, beside others, executed by order of the King of Bavaria for the Walhalla.
By 1824 Rauch had executed 70 busts in marble of which 20 were of colossal size. His bronze statue of Blücher is 13 feet in height. Ranch also executed the greater part of the 12 statues in iron which compose the national monument at Kreuzberg, near Berlin. One of his finest work is the group, “Faith, Hope and Charity”, which he presented to his native town, Arolsen. As a portrait and historic sculptor, Rauch's crowning work is his statue of Frederick the Great at Berlin, executed in 1851.
Ranch was one of the first German sculptors who combined the pure lines of transcendent dignity and grace with natural portrait representation. There is a poetic freedom in his conception of ideal subjects which does not yet oversteps the limits of truth and fidelity to nature. He was the founder of the Berlin School of Sculpture, the most important in Germany.
A statue of Kant for Königsberg and a statue of Thaer for Berlin occupied his attention during some of his last years. Rauch had just finished a model of “Moses praying between Aaron and Hur” when he was attacked by his last illness and died on December 3, 1857, at Dresden.