Ernst Gottschalk began his professional training as a woodcarver in 1892, at a time when he was attending evening classes given by Rudolf Bosselt at the Düsseldorf School of Arts and Crafts. From 1905 onwards, Gottschalk studied at the Art School at Hallesches Tor in Berlin. In 1906 he travelled to southern Russia and worked at a state school in Ekaterinoslav (today Dnipro in Ukraine). From 1907 to 1910 he returned to study at the School of Arts and Crafts in Düsseldorf. Gottschalk’s studies were interrupted by the First World War, in which he served as a medical orderly.
From 1920 onwards, Gottschalk worked as a freelance artist and was a member of the “Young Rhineland” group; in 1923, together with other members, he founded the “Rhine Group”. He was also active in the “Rhine Secession”. Gottschalk was given numerous commissions for bronze sculptures in public places.
The Rhine Secession was dissolved by the Nazis after they assumed power. Many works by Gottschalk in Düsseldorf were destroyed. Gottschalk’s sculptures were removed in 1942 and were intended to be melted down when the country needed metal for the war effort, but they escaped this fate and were returned to their place after the end of hostilities.