Karl Schinkel is well-known as a Prussian architect and city planner, though he also designed furniture and theatrical stage sets. Born in Neuruppin, Germany in 1781, he began his schooling in Berlin as an architecture student. After a visit to Italy in 1805, however, he returned with an interest in painting; in 1816 he painted an extraordinary dome-like backdrop, studded with stars, for Mozart's The Magic Flute. Schinkel returned to architecture, however, after seeing a painting called Wanderer above the Sea of Fog in 1810 and convincing himself that he would never reach the greatness of its painter.
His architectural career was defined by his oversight of the Prussian Building Commission after the defeat of Napoleon. He was responsible for the transformation of Berlin into a suitable grand capital for Prussia, erecting buildings such as the Konzerthaus and the Altes Museum. While his buildings embodied classicism, he also incorporated 20th century ideals, as seen in the Bauakademie 1832.
Schinkel's furniture should be considered within the architectural context for which it was designed. Schinkel strove to promote a completely designed environment for a modernising Prussia. His cast-iron garden chairs, for example, were designed for Prussia's parks and consisted of few components which could be produced in mass quantity. Schinkel died in 1841 having materialised a large and important body of work, while also leaving extensive, unrealised plans and sketches.