(b. 1831, Berlin, d. 1911, Berlin)
German sculptor, member of a family of artists, the son of Carl Begas the Elder. Between 1846 and 1851 he studied at the Königliche Akademie der Künste in Berlin, initially under Johann Gottfried Schadow, and between 1851 and 1853 he continued his training under Ludwig Wichmann and Christian Daniel Rauch. He then began to work independently in Berlin and, after entering his first competition with a Head of Christ, in 1854 he carved the marble group Hagar and Ishmael (plaster version, 1852; Berlin, National Galerie). These were his only sculptures with religious subject-matter, as his work was essentially of and for a humanistic age.
Though trained in a Neo-classical environment, Begas was of a different temperament and responded readily to influences outside the Akademie. A scholarship allowed him to work in Rome between 1856 and 1859, and there he came to appreciate Baroque sculpture, particularly that of Gianlorenzo Bernini. His works from the 1850s show his flair for modelling both children and amorous subjects taken from Classical mythology. At this time Begas began to make a name for himself, and in 1859 he carved a huge frontal piece for the Börse in Berlin showing the allegorical figure of Borussia (Berlin, Lapidarium) as the protectress of Commerce, Agriculture and Industry.
In 1860 he was appointed a professor at the newly founded Kunstschule in Weimar, where he met Franz von Lenbach and Arnold Böcklin, who became his lifelong friend. Begas resigned the post in 1862 and returned to Italy but was recalled to Berlin the same year after winning the public competition for the Schiller monument (marble; Berlin, Platz der Akademie). This established him as one of the period's leading sculptors. Having already begun to execute the commission, in 1864-65 he reworked the model, and in 1871 the monument was at last unveiled. The work was a milestone in public art in Berlin, and with it Begas gave monumental sculpture a new direction.