Erik Nitsche: Wilhelm von Humboldt
Artist: Erik Nitsche
The great scholar and statesman Wilhelm von Humboldt will long be remembered for his great contributions to his homeland. He was born in Potsdam in 1767, and when twenty years old, young Wilhelm studied law at the Universities in Frankfurt. Then, to broaden his perspective on the world, he traveled extensively throughout Germany, France, and Switzerland. Finally, in 1790, he took a job as a law clerk at the Supreme Court in Berlin. In 1791, he achieved the level of legation councillor, quite an accomplishment for being just one year on the job. However, Wilhelm von Humboldt soon left his position to take further studies. To his credit, he became friends with some of the glittering personalities of the day, including the poets and writers Johan Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich von Schiller. In 1802, Humboldt was appointed as the Prussian delegate to the Vatican in Rome. Then, in 1808, he was named as Privy Councillor to the Department of the Interior, where he directed the section entitled culture and education. At the time of the occupation by Napoleon, he managed to reform the Prussian education system. Today, the old University of Berlin in the eastern part of the city bears his name. This historic institution was created by King Friedrich Wilhelm III according to the suggestions of Wilhelm von Humboldt. In 1810, Humboldt resigned his position to become Ambassador to Austria. Later, he would serve as Ambassador to London.
This painting was originally published on the Fleetwood® First Day Cover for the Germany 80pf Wilhelm von Humboldt stamp issued February 21, 1985.
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