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The Enchanted World of German Romantic Prints

September 21–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.

Main Building


The exhibition is generously supported by The Robert Montgomery Scott Fund for Exhibitions and The Pew Charitable Trusts.


John W. Ittmann, The Kathy and Ted Fernberger Curator of Prints

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