“The past of human existence as a whole is not a nothing, but that to which we always return when we have put down deep roots. But this return is not a passive acceptance of what has been, but its transmutation.” –Dr. Martin Heidegger
I attended the following exhibition and this post is a combination of blurry cell phone images [I visited it twice but the time when I took these I had arrived at the museum with only 20 minutes left until close] and images found in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s online collections’ archive:
Philadelphia Museum of Art:
The Enchanted World of German Romantic Prints
September 21, 2013 – December 29, 2013
“Prints created by Austrian, German, and Swiss artists included in this exhibition reflect the dramatic shifts in taste in the arts during a time of significant cultural and political transformation throughout the German-speaking regions of Central Europe during the Romantic period. The selection of 125 prints reflects a number of the artistic enthusiasms of the Romantic period, such as the emerging taste for wild, untamed landscapes; for intimate family scenes and friendship portraits; and for recently rediscovered ancient Nordic sagas and age-old fairytales. Offering a broad overview of a vital chapter in the history of European printmaking, The Enchanted World of German Romantic Prints will illuminate one of the richest areas of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collections.
On view in the exhibition will be major prints by important artists of the German Romantic era such as Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840); Joseph Anton Koch (1768–1839); Carl Wilhelm Kolbe the Elder (1759–1835); Johann Heinrich Lips (1758–1817); Eugen Napoleon Neureuther (1806–1882); Ferdinand Olivier (1785–1841); Ludwig Richter (1803–1884); Philipp Otto Runge (1777–1810); Johann Gottfried Schadow (1764–1850); and Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841) as well as Ludwig Emil Grimm (1790–1863), the younger brother of the famous Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm.
German Romantic Prints at the Museum
The Museum’s holdings of some 8,500 prints from the German Romantic period is the largest in the country, and includes many rare examples seldom seen even in the great European collections.
The majority of the works in this exhibition were selected from the remarkable group of around 40,000 European old master and modern prints assembled in Philadelphia in the mid-nineteenth century by John S. Phillips (1800–1876). Phillips was able to acquire an especially rich representation of the prints of Ludwig Emil Grimm, Carl Wilhelm Kolbe the Elder, Eugen Neureuther, and other significant Austrian, German and Swiss artists of the Romantic generation. When he died in 1876, Phillips left his collection to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The Philadelphia Museum of Art acquired it from the academy in 1985 through an exchange of works of art and a gift of funds from the Museum’s former Chairman of the Board Philip Berman and his wife Muriel.
In recent decades the Museum has been able to acquire a number of rare masterpieces of German Romantic printmaking that were lacking in the Phillips collection. These include a rare self-portrait etching of the artist and his family by Neureuther, an album of etchings and a lithograph by Johann Gottfried Schadow, as well as rare sets of prints by Johann Heinrich Lips, Ferdinand Olivier, and Philipp Otto Runge.”
The following upcoming exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is one which I am looking forward to:
Philadelphia Museum of Art:
Drawn with Spirit: Pennsylvania German Fraktur from the Joan and Victor Johnson Collection
February 1, 2015 – April 26, 2015:
“One of the most admired forms of American folk art, fraktur are decorated Germanic documents featuring brilliant colors and often whimsical imagery. Transplanted to Pennsylvania by German-speaking immigrants in the 1700s, these hand-drawn or printed works on paper are distinguished by a broken (or “fractured”) style of lettering. Most were executed in ink and watercolor and embellished with hearts, flowers, birds, angels, and other lively motifs. Small yet exuberant, fraktur celebrated important moments in the personal and domestic lives of Pennsylvania Germans, who tended to store the documents inside Bibles or chests rather than framing and displaying them on walls. The most common types of fraktur are birth and baptismal certificates, writing samples, house blessings, bookplates, rewards of merit, family records, valentines, New Year’s greetings, and religious subjects or texts.
Philadelphians Joan and Victor Johnson have collected Pennsylvania German fraktur since the late 1950s. According to Joan Johnson, “Fraktur in those days was something we could afford, as my mother would say, with my ‘roast beef money’—anything left over from the budget that week. Whenever I saw something I liked, I bought it.” Gradually, over the course of more than fifty years, the Johnsons assembled one of the finest private holdings of this material in the country. In 2012 they promised all their fraktur (about 230 works, dating between about 1750 and 1860 and mostly made in southeastern Pennsylvania) to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, thereby more than doubling the Museum’s fraktur collection and exponentially increasing its breadth, depth, and quality. One of the first major American institutions to acquire Pennsylvania German folk art, beginning in the early 1890s, the Museum has one of the most important collections of this type in the United States. The Johnsons’ generous gift will place the Museum’s fraktur on a par with the rest of its Pennsylvania German art.
In the exhibition, a selection of the Johnsons’ promised gift of fraktur will be shown with a variety of Pennsylvania German decorative arts from the Museum’s collection, including painted furniture, redware pottery, and metalwork. With this presentation, visitors can readily explore how a common vocabulary of colorful and engaging design motifs adorned all manner of domestic objects in rural Pennsylvania German households. A fully illustrated catalogue of the Johnsons’ entire promised gift by Lisa Minardi, assistant curator at Winterthur Museum and a specialist in Pennsylvania German art and culture, will accompany the exhibition.”