Stories of the Missions of the Church: Vestments & Traditions of the Greeks

Inventory number: 24309


Otto von Stackelberg (Reval, Tallinn, July 25, 1786- Riga March 27, 1837), artist and archaeologist. Born in Estonia to Otto Christian Engelbrecht von Stackelberg and Anna Gertruda Düker, he was left fatherless at age 6 when his father, colonel of the Russian Imperial Army, died in 1792. Given his predisposition for art, his mother entrusted him to the painter Tedesco Reus, who became his private tutor. Headed towards a career in diplomacy, he started his studies at the Università di Göttingen in 1803. However, a trip he took with his brothers to Switzerland within the same year caused him to radically change his professional prospective. In Zurich, he admired to works of Johann Caspar Lavater and Salomon Geßner, and he met Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. From there, he proceeded on to Italy with his brother Karl in 1804.


Once again in Italy in 1809 together with Ernst Heinrich Tölken and Jean Paul, he formed a friendship with the archaeologist Carl Haller von Hallerstein, the Danes Peter Oluf Brondsted, Georg Koës, and Jakob Linckh, as well as with George Christian Gropius who was, at the time, Austrian consul in Greece. The two Danish archaeologists convinced Stackelberg to accompany them to Greece. The intent was not purely academic. On the side was the commercial project to publish a volume that Stackelberg was designated to illustrate. In Greece, Stackelberg and his colleagues would also have a way to export and sell materials discovered in the excavations they conducted, including Egina, Bassae, and Aeaco. In 1816, a new voyage to Italy led him to search for medieval antiquities. In Rome he was among the cofounders of the Germanic Archaological Institute, making up, together with Eduard Gerhard, August Kestner and Theodor Panofka, the group Iperborei (Römischen Hyperboraeer).

In 1826 Stackelberg’s treatise on the temple of Apollo at Bassae (Der Apollotempel zu Bassae in Arcadien und die daselbst ausgegrabenen Bildwerke) was published. He continued to travel assiduously in Greece, Turkey, and Italy. In Etruria, he conducted archaelogical surveys that, in 1827, led to the discovery of the temple and subterranean tomb at Corneto, close to Tarquinia.