Wilhelm von Humboldt in His Study at Tegel Castle (c. 1830)
Together with Karl Baron vom und zum Stein (1757-1831) and Karl August Baron von Hardenberg (1750-1822), the philosopher, scholar, linguist, and politician Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835) was one of Prussia's leading reformers during the period of resurgence that followed the state's defeat by Napoleon in 1806. In addition to studying a wide variety of languages (including Kawi, spoken on the island of Java), Humboldt founded the Berlin university that now bears his name. Committed to humanism and the Enlightenment, Humboldt aimed at the ideal of Bildung, i.e., a type of general education that involved the cultivation of individuality, the development of moral character, and the formation of an aesthetic sensibility. In accordance with this ideal, he opposed the repressive Carlsbad Decrees of 1819. Oil on canvas by unknown artist, c. 1830.