Enfilade

New Acquisition | Getty Acquires Runge’s ‘Times of Day’

Posted in museums by Editor on May 27, 2013

Press release (23 May 2013) from The Getty:

Philipp Otto Runge, Day, from Times of Day, 1805. Printmakers: E.G. Krüger and J. A Darnstedt. Etching and engraving
(Los Angeles: The Getty Research Institute)

The Getty Research Institute (GRI) announced today the acquisition of a rare first edition, Times of Day by Philip Otto Runge (1777–1810). Published in 1805, this suite of four prints representing Morning, Evening, Day, and Night is widely recognized as a monument of German Romantic art.

“This remarkable set of engravings is a radical, personal expression from one of the leaders of the German Romantic movement,” said Thomas W. Gaehtgens, director of the Getty Research Institute. “It is a landmark addition to the Getty Research Institute’s important prints collection.”

Runge, along with Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840), was one of the leading painters and theorists of the German Romantic movement. He rejected the tradition of academic painting in favor of art that symbolically expressed the essential harmony of nature, humanity, and the divine. The complex iconography of Times of Day,  which is very detailed, is meant to express the coming and departing of light—dawn, daytime, dusk, and darkness—and at the same time represents the organic process of conception, growth, decay and death.

“The elegance and purity of these images stands the test of time, expressing universal themes with grace and boldness,” said Louis Marchesano, curator of prints and drawings at the Getty Research Institute. “In his own time, Runge was praised and collected by important cultural figures such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.”

From 1802 until his untimely death in 1810 at the age of 33, Runge worked obsessively on these images, carefully articulating every aspect of their compositions and frames. Early in the planning stages, he made four large outline drawings in preparation for the four final images.

This first, small edition of the four engravings, published in 1805, reflects the delicacy of Runge’s carefully constructed preparatory drawings.  Although the artist approved the production of a second, significantly larger edition, his original intent was not commercial. Runge shared his first edition with other artists and writers in order to disseminate his new artistic ideas and to announce his plans to create a large painting cycle based upon the designs. Those paintings were never completed; thus the prints are an important record of the artist’s goals.

The prints are now part of the GRI’s Special Collections, which comprise rare and unique collections in art history and visual culture from around the world, including more than 27,000 prints ranging from the Renaissance to the present.

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