A German Dream: Masterpieces of Romanticism from the Nationalgalerie, Berlin.
16th October 2004 – 6th February 2005
Supported by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Hypo Real Estate Bank International and Lufthansa Technik.
This exhibition offered an introduction to the development of German Romantic painting covering the period 1800 to 1860, featuring portraits and landscapes from the Age of Goethe to the passion, poetry and prose of the late Romanticism.
The main focus of the show was landscape art, highlighted by the works of Caspar David Friedrich whose unique compositions are today regarded among the most evocative icons of Romanticism. In his paintings, 6 of which were included in the exhibition, nature becomes a mirror of the soul, an object of religious meditation, and a place for historic reflection (Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon, c.1818-25).
Another artist who explored similar themes was the architect and painter Karl Friedrich Schinkel, with panoramas focusing on German identity (The Rugard on Rügen, 1821), and idealised landscape paintings often dominated by the symbolic presence of great Gothic cathedrals (Medieval City on a River, 1815) or antique fragments.
In 1809, a group called the Nazarenes were formed who moved to Rome and attempted to recover the style and spirit of Medieval and Renaissance religious art; its leading figure was Friedrich Overbeck, whose work was represented in this show with his Portrait of Franz Pforr, c.1810.
A later generation of Romantic painters, including Ludwig Richter and Moritz von Schwind were initially influenced by the Nazarenes, but went on to develop their own distinctive style. Richter painted dramatic landscapes (Lake in the Riesengebirge, 1839), while Schwind's subjects (The Rose or The Artists Journey, 1846/7) were drawn from German literature or fairy tales, and illustrate the widespread Romantic fascination with all things Medieval or even bizarre.
The exhibition was organised by the Nationalgalerie Berlin in collaboration with the National Gallery of Ireland. It was curated by Dr. Bernhard Maaz in the Nationalgalerie Berlin and in the National Gallery of Ireland by Fionnuala Croke, Head of Exhibitions.
A German Dream: Masterpieces of Romanticism from the Nationalgalerie, Berlin
© 2004 The authors and the National Gallery of Ireland
Editors Bernhard Maaz, Christina Thomson and Fionnuala Croke