Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born in 1749 in Frankfurt.
From 1765 to 1771, In accordance with his father's wishes,
he studied law in Leibzig and Strasbourg. During his time
at university he began to earn recognition with his poems
and other writings. When he returned to Frankfurt he practised
law but continued to work on his career as a poet and writer.
In 1773 his dramas, based on sixteenth-century models, were
influential in the new Sturm und Drang
Goethe started to receive a lot of attention and recognition
and in 1775 he moved to Weimar at the invitation of Duke Charles
Augustus. He soon became an indispensable minister in the
Duke's court. Although there were to be several lengthy travels
to Italy, which spurred his classical interests and learning,
Goethe was to remain a fixture in Weimar and at the centre
of a remarkable literary circle for the remainder of his life,
almost sixty years in all. There, despite his obligations
as a minister of the state, Goethe wrote a prodigious amount.
Faust, one of his best-known works took him most of his life
to complete. He had started to compose Faust about the age
of twenty-three, but only finally finished the second part
in 1832, just before his death.
Goethe considered his scientific writings and in particular
his research on colour to be his most important contribution
to the world. He produced a theory of colour that was based
on years of personal observation. He used prisms, lenses,
and various vessels to demonstrate how and under what conditions
colour could arise. All this was carefully documented under
various headings: physical colours; physiological colours;
chemical colours; relation to other pursuits; effect of colour
with reference to moral associations and other general characteristics.
These scientific works run to some fourteen volumes. By the time of his
death, he was seen as the greatest writer that Germany had
> Liane Collot d’Herbois