Karl August Böttiger (1760–1835) was a German archaeologist and classicist, and a prominent member of the literary and artistic circles in Weimar and Jena.
Böttiger was educated at Schulpforta and Leipzig, and under the influence of Johann Gottfried Herder held for thirteen years a headmastership at Weimar, from 1790 to 1804. For the remaining thirty-one years of his life, he resided at Dresden as director of the Museum of Antiques, and was active as a journalist and public lecturer. As a schoolmaster, he had published a considerable number of pedagogic and philological programs. In 1810, Böttiger with Swiss painter Heinrich Meyer released a monograph on the painting in the Vatican known as the "Aldobrandini marriage". His archaeological works, mainly produced at Dresden, fall into three groups:
The first of these is private antiquities, best represented by his "Sabina, or morning-scenes in the dressing-room of a wealthy Roman lady", which was translated into French and served as a model for Wilhelm Adolf Becker's Gallus and Charicles. The second, the Greek theatre, which Böttiger had been interested in since his time as a drama critic in Weimar; his unfavorable review of August Wilhelm Schlegel's Ion was withdrawn at the request of Goethe. It was mainly as a schoolmaster in Weimar that he wrote his papers on the distribution of the parts, on the masks and dresses, and on the machinery of the ancient stage, as well as a dissertation on the masks of the Furies in 1801. Thirdly, he worked in the domain of ancient art and mythology; his work in this area was popular but, according to some 20th century critics, superficial.
His accomplishments in Dresden led him to be noticed by the court of the Kingdom of Saxony, and he was the Aulic councilor of the kings of Saxony. Böttiger supplied the descriptive letter-press to the 1797 German edition of Tischbein's reproductions from William Hamilton's second collection of Greek vases, and thus introduced the study of Greek vase-painting into Germany. He published lectures on the history of ancient sculpture in 1806, and painting in 1811, and edited the three volumes of an archaeological periodical called Amalthea from 1820 to 1825, which included contributions from the most eminent classical archaeologists of the day.
His pupil, who edited many of Böttiger's works after his death, was the German classicist Karl Julius Sillig.
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