Drawings by the German Romantics

From September 15 to December 12, 2010

Lunar landscapes and mediaeval ruins on the Baltic coast, snow-clad Alpine peaks and Vesuvius in eruption – the pictorial world of German Romanticism is exhibited in Thorvaldsens Museum’s wide-ranging exhibition of some of the great German artists from around 1800, including Caspar David Friedrich, Carl Gustav Carus and Johan Georg von Dillis.

Exquisite drawings from German Romanticism

Landscape art acquired a quite special status during the course of the 18th century, and artists took a new step and went out into the countryside to portray it. It is this preoccupation with the magic of the European landscape, its mighty forces and its moods that are at the centre of the museum’s exhibition “WUNDERLAND. Drawings by the German Romantics”.

With almost 90 drawings by some of the best and most famous German artists of the time, the exhibition in the museum presented the graphic art of German Romanticism in a display covering the period from the end of the 18th century to the middle of the 19th, with landscape motifs from many different parts of Germany, the Alps and the various artists’ travels in the South.

Imaginary landscapes, symbol-laden landscapes and
topographical depictions

There are religious undertones to the landscape paintings and drawings of German Romanticism. Nature was felt to be animated, and the Middle Ages were cultivated as an ideal world. So the Romantic artist was interested in mediaeval castles and ruins, in places in the countryside where the landscape is torn by rocky chasms, in caverns and smoking volcanic craters or in intense lighting such as moonlight, sunrise and sunset, haze and mist, which dissolve and transform the familiar shapes and give them new significance. The exhibition thus contains symbol-laden landscapes alongside fantasy landscapes and more straightforward topographical depictions.

The works on loan from Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg

The works in the exhibition have been loaned by one of Germany’s most important collections of drawings and graphics, the Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg. Here, they represent a collection within the collection, as all the works were presented by Heinz Böhm-Hennes (1914-2002), a collector from Coburg who started collecting drawings as early as the 1950s. Several of the artists in the collection are also represented in Thorvaldsen’s own extensive collections of drawings and paintings. Many of them were simply colleagues and friends of Thorvaldsen during his prolonged stay in Rome, and so it is quite natural for Thorvaldsens Museum to mount this exhibition and the source of great delight that it has been possible to arrange for this unique loan of works by great German Romantic masters.

The exhibition was arranged by curator Margrethe Floryan.

Dillis detalje
Johann Georg von Dillis. ”Lady in a Garden.” Ink and watercolour. 1791/2.

Foto: Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg
Caspar David Friedrich. The Ruins of the Monastery of the Holy Cross by Meisssen. Ink and wash. 1800.

Foto: Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg
Carl Gustav Carus. Riverscape by Moonlight. Watercolour heightened with white. Undated.

All photos: Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg.

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