3/13/12

Carl Gustav Carus, The Goethe Monument


Kunsthalle, Hamburg

Date: 1832
Technique: Oil on canvas, 72 x 54 cm

Carus was a great admirer of Goethe, who in turn highly appreciated both Carus's theoretical writings and his painting. Carus's painting of the Goethe monument is described in a contemporary journal as follows. "In a lonely rocky area stands Goethe's sarcophagus, and upon it a harp; moonlight falls through its strings, illuminating two angels who kneel reverently before it. Mists swirl around the base of the monument. It would seem that Goethe's manifold and magical contacts with Nature have inspired the ingenious artist to this Ossianic idea."

Goethe, who devoted himself so intensively to questions of the world and humanity, has been recast in Carus's picture into an unworldly and lonely Romantic figure. His imaginary grave evokes Romantic yearning in terms of an actual destination, an envisioned place of pilgrimage, an altar, a holy of holies.

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