Sascha Schneider “Mammon and His Slave”, 1896, Wood Engraving, 24 x 32 cm, Private Collection of Hans-Gerd Röder
Born on September 21, 1870, in St. Petersburg, Sascha Schneider was a painter, printmaker, and sculptor. He enrolled in the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts in 1889, and in 1903 he met Karl May, the popular author of Western novels featuring Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, which led to Schneider becoming the cover illustrator for many of May’s books.
In 1904 Schneider became professor at the Weimar Saxon-Grand Ducal Art School . When his partner, the painter Hellmuth Jahn, threatened to expose his homosexuality, at that time a criminal offense, in an attempt to blackmail him, Schneider fled to Italy, where homosexuality was not a crime. After traveling through the Caucasus and living in Leipzig for a short time, he went back to Italy to live in Florence, returning to Germany upon the outbreak of World War I. He later co-founded a body-building institute called Kraft-Kunst, where some of the models for his work trained. He died of complications from diabetes in 1927 in Swinemünde.
Schneider knew Czech poet and writer Jiří Karásek from Berlin and Prague, where he taught on occasion. While Freud’s idea of anxiety being rooted in the repressed unconscious was one source of inspiration, no doubt Schneider’s greatest influence was the symbolist artist Max Klinger, whose work Schneider recast into his own original conception of Decadence. All but forgotten for decades, the past few years have seen a revival of interest in his work, with a major exhibition held in the US in 2013.