Carl Wilhelm Kolbe, Auch ich war in Arkadien, an etching

Germany, AD 1801 (state III)

'I too lived in Arcadia'

Kolbe (1759-1835), felt the intense identity with nature shared by artists and the public at large during the Romantic Age. This young couple, who combine modesty with nudity, are placed in Arcadia, in the idyll of his imagination. 'I too lived in Arcadia', is Kolbe's translation of the Latin inscription on the tomb at which the couple's gazes are aimed.

In his late twenties, Kolbe was encouraged by Chodowiecki, the husband of his aunt, to attend the Berlin Academy of Art. There he drew classical sculpture, but his passion was for landscape, particularly views with large oak trees. He taught himself to etch, and inspired by Dutch seventeenth-century landscape etchings, he became the finest German etcher of his age.

This landscape is one of twenty-eight highly personal etchings he produced, in which the figures are dwarfed by giant vegetation. His pleasure in etching prompted him to enlarge undergrowth to the size of trees. The skill involved with this technique is exemplified by the intricate detail of the leaves and grasses. He then arranges this fantastic foliage in depth, contrasting the areas of light and shadow.

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More information

Bibliography

F. Carey and A. Griffiths, German printmaking in the age, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

Dimensions

Height: 527.000 mm
Width: 409.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1991-7-20-113 (Martens 96)

PPA72009

Location

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