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Hualin International Journal of Buddhist Studies 1.1 (2018): 159–191;
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhism in the West)

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The Birth of Individual Life Concepts: The Influences of Arthur Schopenhauer’s Buddhism on Eduard von der Heydt’s Collection of Buddhist Art

Petra H. RÖSCH
Museum of East Asian Art in Cologne

Abstract: The paper traces the influence of Buddhist religion and philosophy mitigated through Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860) on nineteenth and early twentieth century alternative thinking and new life concepts in Europe. Many German scholars were inspired through Schopenhauer to study Indian philosophy and literature, incorporating Buddhist concepts into Western thinking and translating the first Indian Buddhist texts into German, like those by Paul Deussen, Georg Grimm or Karl, Eigen Neumann. Schopenhauer and these early German Buddhologists had also a considerable impact on the collector and banker Eduard von der Heydt (1882–1964). Like many other intellectuals, artists or members of the bourgeoisie and upper middle classes, he was searching for a new and modern way of life. Taking Eduard von der Heydt as a case study, the paper will show how during the early twentieth century, Buddhist thinking initialized by Schopenhauer took root in Germany. It will also demonstrate how various life-reform movements and alternative ways of life superseded the conventional and restricted life-style of the nineteenth century and inspired von der Heydt to set up his life and art at his private Buddhist paradise on the Monte Verita in Switzerland.

Keywords: Schopenhauer, Eduard von der Heydt, Monte Verita, Buddhology


About the Author: Petra H. Rösch received her academic training at Erlangen, Shifan Daxue and Heidelberg University in European and East Asian Art History and Sinology. While an Assistant Professor at Heidelberg University she completed her dissertation, ‘Chinese Wood sculptures of the 11th to 13th centuries: Images of Water-moon Guanyin in Northern Chinese Temples and Western Collections’ in 2005. As Research Fellow from 2005–2009 in the interdisciplinary research centre ‘The Dynamics of Ritual’ at Heidelberg University, she started her Habilitation on ‘Confession Rituals at Chinese Buddhist Cave-temples of the 6th to 8th century’. She has held several additional teaching positions: from January to March 2008 she was a visiting lecturer in the Department of Art and Art History at Stanford University, and from 2006–2014 she was a biannual visiting lecturer at the Ritsumeikan APU Asia Pacific University. At present, she is Deputy Director and curator of Buddhist and Korean Art at the Museum of East Asian Art in Cologne and occasionally gives seminars at Bonn and Heidelberg University.


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