- Museum number
- Object: Auch ich war in Arkadien (I too was in Arcadia)
Couple seen from behind standing next to a sarcophagus bearing the inscription "ET IN AR[CADIA E]GO" amongst giant lush vegetation. 1801
- Production date
Height: 542 millimetres
Width: 410 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from Antony Griffiths and Frances Carey, 'German Printmaking in the Age of Goethe', BM 1994, no. 71:
In a famous essay 'Et in Arcadia Ego: Poussin and the elegiac tradition' (reprinted in 'Meaning in the Visual Arts', various editions), Erwin Panofsky discussed the subject of this print which first appears in a painting by Guercino of 1621. The Latin words "Et in Arcadia ego" (seen on the tomb which the two lovers contemplate in Kolbe's print) translate as 'Even in Arcadia I too am to be found' and are spoken by death. They thus serve as an elegiac reminder of mortality even within an earthly paradise.
Panofsky shows how very soon the original meaning of the Latin was mistranslated as 'I too have lived in Arcadia' - understood as being spoken by the living, and meaning that he too experienced a time in paradise. And it is this second meaning that is given by the German title of this print, which mistranslates the Latin inscription shown on the tomb.
Arcadian landscapes were immensely popular among German artists of the late eighteenth century (especially in drawings), and are found even in the work of Koch. Kolbe was not the only one to introduce into them the elegiac element of a tomb with this inscription. Other examples are found in the work of such varied artists as J. C. Reinhart (see Feuchtmayr G40,41 painted for Schiller in 1787, and the four drawings referred to in her entry); Adrian Zingg (Schulze Altcappenberg, p.366); Franz Kobell (Karl & Faber, auction 105, 1993, lot 328); and Georg Dillis (1991-2 Munich exhibition cat.8).
Another impression of the third state of this print was exhibited in the BM in 2011/12; see G. Bartrum (ed.), exhib.cat., BM, London, 'German Romantic prints and drawings from an English private collection', 2011, pp. 206-7, no. 63.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1994/5 Sep-Jan, BM, German Printmaking in the Age of Goethe, no. 70
1995 Jan-Mar, Lancaster, Peter Scott Gall, Age of Goethe
1995 Mar-May, Edinburgh, NG Scotland, Age of Goethe
1995 May-Jun, Newcastle, Northumbria Univ Gall, Age of Goethe
1995 Jul-Aug, Plymouth City Mus & AG, Age of Goethe
1995 Sep-Oct, York City Art Gallery, Age of Goethe
1995 Nov-Dec, Nottingham, Djanogly AG, Age of Goethe
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- From Bassenge, Berlin, auction 31 May 1991, lot 5558, (Christopher Mendez commissioned)
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number