Rudolf Steiner
and Some of His Works

Rudolf Steiner.
[Public domain photo; color added.]

This may seem a strange thing to say, but I think Rudolf Steiner might have made something of himself.  He dabbled in many fields, and he showed signs of aptitude in some of them — architecture, for example. If he had applied himself, he might have had a career in architecture. But he went a different route, and as a result most of his potential was lost. (How great was his potential? It is hard to say. He had assistance in many of his artistic projects. It is not always clear how much of "his" artwork was his own, and how much was provided by his "assistants.")

The route his chose, of course, was occultism. He elected to be a spiritual savant. Perhaps this was his karma; perhaps it was the will of the gods. Or perhaps it was his own conscious choice, a voluntary decision he made heeding no drumbeat but his own. In any event, his life's work turned out to be the enunciation of the spiritual "truths" that he claimed to attain through the use of marvelously precise clairvoyance. The value of that work is certainly open to challenge; and, sadly, because he devoted himself to that work, he allowed most of his other talents to go largely unfulfilled.

Still, he involved himself in many areas of human endeavor, and he left us various products of his apparent, potential gifts. Here are a few samples of his output.

Steiner with a model of the first Goetheanum.
Steiner is credited with the design of the building.
[Public domain photo; color added.]

Model for the second Goetheanum,
attributed to Steiner.
[Public domain photo; color added.]

The second Goetheanum as completed.
[R. R. sketch, 2013.]

Steiner with the wooden statue of Christ that stands today in the Goetheanum.
Steiner conceived the statue, and he carved some parts, 
but sculptor Edith Maryon and her assistants did most of the work.*
[Public domain photo; color added.]

Blackboard drawing by Steiner.
He created many such drawings to accompany his lectures.
[See, e.g., KNOWLEDGE OF HIGHER WORLDS: Rudolf Steiner's Blackboard Drawings
(University of Washington Press, 1998).]

Another blackboard drawing,
this time depicting the diminishing power
of natural laws as we move farther and father from Earth.
[See RUDOLF STEINER - Blackboard Drawings 1919-1924
(Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 98.]

The "Slavic Human Being" / "The Germanic Initiate"
— a crayon sketch by Steiner
working out a design for use inside the Goetheanum.

(SteinerBooks, 2011), p. 146.]

Another crayon sketch,
in this instance depicting life on Atlantis
when human beings — under the protection of the gods — 
had bodies akin to jelly fish.

(SteinerBooks, 2011), p. 41.]

Impression of the creative activities of the spirits of form —
gods four levels above mankind.


(SteinerBooks, 2011), p. 55;

detail, from a painting by Gerard Wagner, 

based on indications given by Steiner.]

Sketches by Steiner for windows in the Goetheanum.
Color added.]

More Steiner sketches for Goetheanum windows.
Color added.]

Impression of a triptych in the Goetheanum, including two of the windows sketched above
flanking a larger, central window; design by Steiner.
[R.R. sketch, 2014.]

Another Goetheanum triptych designed by Steiner —
"It will be, IT ARISES, It is."
[R.R. sketch, 2010.]

Single-panel opaque colored windows, designed by Steiner,
flanking the main hall in the second Goetheanum.
(Philosophisch-Anthroposophischer Verlag am Goetheanum, 1972), pp. 72-73.
Columns bearing astrological emblems were latter added to the hall.

The main hall in the original Goetheanum, as designed by Steiner
and built in his lifetime. When this building was destroyed by fire,
work began on a replacement. The second Goetheanum
was not completed until long after Steiner's death.
[R.R. sketch, 2010.]

Potion of a pastel drawing attributed to Steiner
and used on the cover of 
(Anthroposophic Press, 2002).

Watercolor painting by Steiner (with assistance?),
used on the cover of THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY
(Anthroposophic Press, 1998).

One of the signs of the zodiac as re-conceived by Steiner;
drawing by Imma von Eckhardstein.
[CALENDAR 1912/13 (Steiner Books, 2003, facsimile edition.]

The Grosheintz house,
design attributed to Steiner.
[Public domain photo; color added.]
Some critics deride such designs, saying they look like mushrooms.
But I rather like this one, at least.

The essence of Steiner's work is to be found in the several books 
he wrote and the thousands of lectures he delivered.
(Some of the latter were collected and published, with Steiner's approval,
during his lifetime. Many others were painstakingly reconstructed from transcripts
and published by his followers after his death.)
Reading these can be taxing, but anyone seriously interested
in Waldorf education should investigate at least a few Steiner texts.
[AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE (Anthroposophical Literature Concern, 1922), and
Based Upon Lectures by Rudolph [sic] Steiner (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1929).]

Steiner died in 1925; he is long gone.
But his followers continue to pore over his words,
which still provide the central impulse for Anthroposophy
and Waldorf education.
One reflection: Steiner's books continue to be repackaged
and re-released by Anthroposophical publishers.
(Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009).]

Rudolf Steiner.
[Public domain photo; color added.]

* Steiner's supporters often indicate that Steiner created the statue wholly or at least primarily by himself. But sometimes a different, more accurate account emerges — although we still may need to read between the lines to fully comprehend the story.

“Rudolf Steiner, with the support of the English sculptress Edith Maryon, began work on a central sculptural work for the developing building [i.e., the Goetheanum] ... Rudolf Steiner worked on the ‘Christ Group’ with Edith Maryon and a few assistants.” — Peter Selg, THE FIGURE OF CHRIST: Rudolf Steiner and the Spiritual Intention Behind the Goetheanum’s Central Work of Art (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2009), pp. 23-25.

“The group, which is carved out of elm, is of an enormous size, needing a scaffolding nine meters (about 29 feet) high. The original model, which was the same size as the final sculpture, was largely made by the English sculptress Edith Maryon in accordance with Rudolf Steiner’s instructions. Several other sculptors in addition to Miss Maryon worked on the wooden Group itself, once the huge pieces of elm had been glued together and were ready for the mallet and chisel. Steiner sometimes left this original sculpture as they had left it, but more often he added a few essential touches to make the figures conform fully to his intentions.” — Stewart Copinger Easton, RUDOLF STEINER: Herald of a New Epoch (SteinerBooks, 1980), p. 227.

Steiner undoubtedly controlled the project; his was the guiding sensibility; and he is usually credited with doing substantial work on the final sculpture (which largely conforms to the original model). The statute is, in an important sense, his. But the photograph of Steiner standing alone, in a sculptor's smock, contemplating the work in progress, creates a highly misleading impression. How much Steiner intended to mislead the public about his artistic endeavors and the degree of assistance he received may remain an open question. The most accurate statement would be that the statue is by Rudolf Steiner, Edith Maryon, and others.

— Compilation by Roger Rawlings

To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, use the underlined links, below.

◊◊◊ 13. RUDOLF STEINER ◊◊◊


Seeing Steiner through his followers’ eyes; includes brief chronology of Steiner's life


What he prescribed, and — perhaps — why

Steiner's visions

Steiner as leader

Steiner’s embrace of an architect of destruction


Steiner and his followers, beleaguered

The coming, epoch-ending war