Friday, May 6, 2011

Werther at his desk

Whenever I pick up a book I always look in the index to see if Goethe is mentioned. Eighteenth-century studies invariably include him, if only incidentally. The exhibition catalogue for "Rooms with a View" has Goethe in the index and also refers to his influence on certain of the painters included in the exhibition. One of the painters, Carl Ludwig Kaaz, is said to have had a close friendship with Goethe. As Sabine Rewald writes, Kaaz gave Goethe instruction in gouache and watercolors when he was in Karlsbad. More important perhaps was Carl Gustav Carus, who was also a professor medicine and whom Goethe invited to collaborate with him on his morphological publications. Unfortunately, Carus did not think highly of Goethe's color theory; Goethe thus broke off their correspondence.

The above painting, though not in the exhibition, is included in the catalogue. It is by Georg Friedrich Kersting, whom I mentioned in my first post on this exhibition in connection with the portrait of Louise Seidler. As Rewald writes in the catalogue: the figure's "artfully disheveled blond hair is in tune with his 'Werther'-inspired costume": blue jacket, yellow vest, and grey pants.

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