LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Getty Research Institute
announced today the acquisition of a rare first edition, Times of Day, by Phillip Otto Runge (17771810). 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 Institutes important prints collection.
Runge, along with Caspar David Friedrich (17741840), 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 lightdawn, daytime, dusk and darknessand 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 Runges 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 artists goals.
The prints are now part of the GRIs 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.