Sonnenfels, Joseph Freiherr von
Baron Joseph von Sonnenfels, engraving by Schleuen
Sonnenfels, Baron Joseph von, b. Mikulov, Czech Republic (then Nikolsburg), 1732, d. Vienna, April 25, 1817, law scholar. University professor from 1763, established ´political science´ as a university subject in its own right by separating it from ´economics´ and ´finance´; main supporter of the era of Enlightenment under Joseph II, advocated the abolition of torture in 1776. Court Counsellor of the Court Chancery in 1779, worked on the judicial reform of Joseph II. S. wanted to purge the theatre of improvised comedies and popular elements, initiated the reform of the Burgtheater by Joseph II, became theatre censor in 1810 and President of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 1811.
Works: Briefe über die Wienerische Schaubühne, 4 vols., 1768; Grundsätze der Polizey-, Handlungs- und Finanzwiss., 3 parts, 1769-1776; Über die Abschaffung der Folter, 1775. - Edition: Gesammelte Schriften, 10 vols., 1883-1887.
Literature: J. Brosche, J. v. S. and das Wiener Theater, doctoral thesis, Vienna 1962; D. Lindner, Der Mann ohne Vorurteil, 1983; J. S., ed. by H. Reinalter, 1988.