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The golden age of german romanticism

Watercolours and drawings at the time of Goethe, an exhibition at the Musée de la Vie Romantique in Paris, spring 2008

Mr. Daniel Marchesseau, director of the Musée de la Vie Romantique in Paris and co-commissionner of this exhibition, leads us through the period of German Romanticism and its main protagonists. You can discover here a hundred and twenty-four exceptional drawings and watercolours by some sixty artists.

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An anthology of drawings testifies to the abundant creativity of this period so rich intellectually.
The works presented here seem very confidential and limited in time and « genre », and nonetheless they open a whole universe. As though through a magnifying glass, one gets to peer into the soul of this period with its metaphysical outbursts and concrete life.

The « age of Goethe » was a rather troubled one :
Goethe lived through the Enlightenment, constitutional monarchy, the French revolution, the Napoleonic occupation and the wars of liberation, then the Restoration, and the Sturm und Drang, Romanticism and Biedermeier -art bourgeois- times. Quite an important and varied historical period!

- Did the artists represented in this exhibition, have a direct or particular relationship with these historical currents ?
- Is it possible to present a synthesis or a definition of this exceedingly generalised notion of « German romanticism » ?
- What were the relationships and exchanges between France and Germany in Goethe’s days ?

All these issues and more are developed by Daniel Marchesseau.
After this overview of the Goethe period, we’ll walk through the various exhibition rooms of « The Golden Age of German Romanticism ».

- As at this period – between the end of the XVIIth and the beginning of the XVIIIth century –, drawing was the main and most distinguished form of artistic expression in the field of the Fine Arts, we’ll discover the main artists of this selection here.

- Several emblematic figures deserve special mention:
C.D. Friedrich, P.O. Runge, J.H. Füssli, J.H. Tischbein ou J.G. von Dillis, Moritz von Schwind, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, L. Richter, and Nazarenes like F. Overbeck or J. Schnorr von Carolsfeld, etc. What a gathering!

In the first room, we find a drawing by Goethe, a Veduta of Rome.
(He stayed in Rome, Naples and Sicily for a few months, the « happiest period of his life». He started drawing with J.H. Tischbein and J.P. Hackert, met young Angelika Kauffmann and raved about Antiquity and Winckelmann’s theories.
Further to be seen are works by J.G. Shadow, A. Kauffmann (A Tribute to Goethe, she drew Goethe’s bust). J.H. Tishbein (Reynard(...)

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