- Museum number
- Series: Radirte Blätter nach Handzeichnungen von Goethe herausgegeben von C.A.Schwerdgeburth, Weimar
Series of 6 etchings after designs by Goethe, printed one to a page, in original stitched brown paper wrappers on which are printed six poems by Goethe printed by Caesar Mazzucchi in Magdeburg, published by Schwerdgeburth in Weimar, nd. 
- Production date
Height: 343 millimetres
Width: 280 millimetres (sheet size)
- Curator's comments
- Text from Antony Griffiths and Frances Carey, 'German Printmaking in the Age of Goethe', BM 1994, no. 148 :
This small booklet contains six etchings (1982,0227.5 (1-6)), with tissue paper interleaving, stitched into brown wrappers, on all four sides of which are printed six poems by Goethe. These were written specifically to accompany his six drawings for this publication, and so count as their first edition. The etchings were made by Holdermann, an amateur whose function in Weimar was as the producer in the court theatre, and Carl Lieber, a protégé of Goethe and instructor at the Weimar drawing school. For their publisher C. A. Schwerdgeburth, see 1884,0308.104.
The publication was described by Goethe himself: "The undertaking of several worthy artists to edit etched plates after my drawings must be welcome to me in more than one sense. As music is welcome to the poet, whereby the musician brings alive his poem for himself and others, so it is a pleasure to see here old long-faded sheets rescued from the stream of Lethe. On the other hand, I have long thought that in the information and account that I have given of my life, drawing is often mentioned, whereby one might not unreasonably ask why, after repeated effort and continuous enthusiasm, nothing that gives any artistic satisfaction has emerged . . . The finest benefit that an art-lover can get from his unachieved strivings is that the society of the artist remains dear and valuable, supportive and useful to him. And he who is not in a position to create himself, will, if he only knows and judges himself wisely, profit from intercourse with creative men, and, if not on this side, at least from another side form and educate himself.
"With the feeling that these sketches that are now laid before the public cannot entirely overcome their inadequacies themselves, I have added a small poem to each, so that their inner meaning can be perceived, and the viewer might be laudibly deceived, as if he saw with his eyes what he feels and thinks, that is a closeness to the state in which the draughtsman found himself when he committed his few lines to paper" ('Über Kunst und Alterthum', III, part 3, 1822, pp.142-50). On pp.91-127 of the same issue is another set of sixteen poems to pictures written at the request of Wilhelm Tischbein (1859,0514.815 ) who had sent Goethe his newly-drawn set of illustrations to Theocritus's 'Idylls'. Such links go back to the beginning of his career in Leipzig in 1765-8: "The numerous subjects which I saw treated by artists awakened the poetic talent in me, and just as one makes an engraving to a poem, so I made poems to the engravings and drawings . . . and so accustomed myself to consider the arts in combination with each other" (Robson-Scott, pp.344-5).
For all Goethe's greatness as a poet, his abilities as a draughtsman were not above the amateur, as is very apparent in this publication. He came to accept this limitation himself, giving a remarkable critique of his own work to Eckermann: "In Italy in my fortieth year I was intelligent enough to recognise that I had no talent for the visual arts and that my efforts in this direction were misplaced. In my drawing I lacked sufficient feeling for substantiality. I had a certain fear of letting the objects make their full impact on me; on the contrary, it was the insubstantial and unemphatic elements that appealed to me . . . Nor without constant practice did I ever make any progress; and I always had to start again from the beginning if I had ever dropped my drawing for a while" (10 April 1829).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1994/5 Sept-Jan, BM, 'German Printmaking in the Age of Goethe', no. 148
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number