Johann Joseph Pracht: When Schongau's “Poetic Master Carpenter” was famous
Created: 01/03/2023, 12:00 p.m
View of the model of the town of Schongau from around 1840 in the town museum of Schongau from the south-west with the house of the Pracht family (arrow).
An article in the current Welf, the yearbook of the Schongau Historical Association, deals with Johann Joseph Pracht (1765-1811).
The poetic carpenter master was not only known in Bavaria, but also beyond the national borders.
Today, however, he is almost forgotten.
– On December 25, 1765, Johann Joseph Pracht was born in Schongau.
He was born into a distinguished Schongau carpenter family who lived in a large, three-storey house on the north-west corner of Weinstrasse and Kirchenstrasse.
His father was a member of the inner council of the city of Schongau and one of the mayors for over 20 years.
Pracht attended the German school in Schongau and then the local Latin school.
His academic achievements were so good that his parents wanted to make him a clergyman and sent him to Munich for further education.
There he was housed in the associated boarding school, the Domus Gregoriana.
Johann Joseph Pracht, a boy with a weak constitution, good manners and a tendency to gossip, also successfully completed high school.
Especially his talent for the German and Latin language attracted positive attention.
In order to become a clergyman, the next steps were two years of philosophy and three years of theology at the Munich Lyceum.
However, Pracht did not want to pursue a spiritual career, and he did not like the content of his philosophy studies either, so that in his second year of study he hardly attended any lectures at all.
This brought his academic career to an abrupt end.
He could not continue to stay at the lyceum.
His parents now did the most obvious thing, brought him back to Schongau and let him learn his father's carpentry trade.
The pulpit from the workshop of the Pracht joinery in the Schongau cemetery chapel of St. Sebastian.
In 1790, at the age of 24, he married the shoemaker's daughter Johanna Reichard from Schongau.
Children were born in rapid succession over the next few years, five of whom reached adulthood.
Johann Joseph Pracht now worked with his father, a talented and skilful carpenter, in the workshop.
In addition to day-to-day business, the Pracht joinery also received more demanding orders, such as
B. the construction of a new choir altar for the parish church in Utting or a new pulpit for the Schongau cemetery chapel of St. Sebastian.
His adaptation caused a great stir
In addition to his work, Pracht, who had always loved to read, began to translate the fables of the Roman poet Phaedrus from Latin into German rhymes.
He did this as a "defense against poverty and melancholy", i.e. to also have an intellectual occupation.
His adaptation was published in book form in 1798 and caused a great stir.
The fact that a master craftsman from the country could achieve such an intellectual achievement was very positively received in the Enlightenment period.
His book was discussed in the press as far away as London, noticed in the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and even read by the Bavarian Elector Karl Theodor.
Johann Joseph Pracht became well-known and became the "poetic master carpenter".
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Next he translated the fables of François-Joseph Desbillons into German.
His main work is the adaptation of the didactic poems Zodicus vitae (zodiac of life) by Marcellus Palingenius Stellatus in four volumes.
After the death of his father in 1800, Johann Joseph Pracht managed to get a job as an administrative employee at the newly established school supervisory authority in Straubing, although he was not actually qualified for the job.
His notoriety in educated circles and at court must have been useful to him in this context.
In 1803 he moved to Straubing with his family and sold the family estate in Schongau.
Move from Straubing to Eichstätt
After only a few years of service, school supervision in Bavaria was reorganized and the Straubing authority was dissolved.
Pracht was initially unemployed, surviving with tutoring in Latin and a temporary job at the Straubing district library.
In order to be able to continue employing him in the civil service, he was tested by the Straubing high school teachers for his suitability for service at a higher school.
The result was sobering.
Apart from a good knowledge of German and Latin, he didn't have much to show for it.
Nevertheless, he was appointed to teach the entry class at the Eichstätt Studienschule.
So the Pracht family moved again, this time from Straubing to Eichstätt, where they arrived in 1809.
After only a few months in Eichstätt, Johann Joseph Pracht became so ill with a debilitating illness that he was no longer able to teach.
He died on June 4, 1811 at the age of 45.
The Welf 2022 is available for 14 euros in Schongau in the books gallery and at Seitz stationery, in Peiting at Buch am Bach.
The yearbook of the Historical Association is also available in the Schongau City Museum.
You can find more current news from the region around Schongau at Merkur.de/Schongau.
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The local newspapers in the Weilheim-Schongau district are represented on Instagram under “merkur_wm_sog”.