He began his artistic training in 1863 at the Academy of Fine Arts. From 1867 to 1870, he was a pupil of Johannes Schilling. After his father died and he lost his means of support, he went to work in Schilling"s studio.
By 1872, he was able to open a studio of his own and take the traditional study trip to Rome.
He was named a full Professor shortly thereafter. Ernst Barlach and Selmar Werner were among his best-known students.
In 1912, he received an appointment as a Geheimrat.
He was made an honorary member of the Academy in 1881. He succeeded Ernst Julius Hähnel at the Master Studio for Plastic Arts and became a member of the Academic Council in 1891. He became a member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1895.