Friday, March 13, 2009

Did Angelica...

Goethe in the Campagna; 1787 by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein

...paint Goethe? was the question by a commentator.

What I can recall, without spending oodles of time right now researching my books (I have a WONDERFUL exhibition book Angelika Kauffmann, 1741-1807 "Eine Dichterin mit dem Pinsel"~ [a poetess with a brush] is that yes she did, but neither Angelica nor Goethe were satisfied with the result, the result being that this painting is not well-known.
Portrait painting was considered to be the highest of the high in art, precisely because it is SO DIFFICULT to achieve a precise likeness of the sitter.

The painting that IS well known of Goethe is that done by Johann H. W. Tischbein pictured here (above), and I give the whole name of the painter (seen above image) because he stems from a painting family of Tischbeins.
Now, note carefully in this painting, Goethe's resemblance to The Skater by Stuart (see entry 2/1/09 & Goethe by Tischbein 2/7/09). Robust and healthy physique, contemplative, out enjoying nature, in Tischbein Goethe is taking a break from a long walk in the countryside of Rome, in Stuart William Grant is also "getting away from it all". Goethe in his early days in the small dukedom of Weimar, walked hill and dale, and loved it. Walking as a form of transportation was very common...
Tischbein met Goethe in 1786 in Italy, and these two also became good friends, travelling together, sketching and painting the Roman ruins.
[more on the Goethe and Charlotte von Stein story] Goethe loved this trip, but did not realize the extent of Charlotte's unhappiness that he left for the trip during the dark of night, without even telling her (thus she suffered the humiliation of not being able to tell her friends whither her intimate friend had gone), and then stayed away from Weimar for two years (which was unplanned). But Goethe needed this break, for perhaps he knew, that the relationship had future. But also the fact is Goethe had dreamed about this trip from the time he was a boy. So the perfect storm was reached, he left, and broke a ten year intimacy apart.


Maureen said...

Another tidbit about this particular painting is that it was the source for Andy Warhol's 1982 silkscreen series of Goethe, he did one of Alexander the Great the same year.

emikk said...

I'm confused, who painted the above portrait of Goethe?

Beth Ahrens-Kley said...


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