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Carl Gustav Carus

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Carl Gustav Carus
(1789–1869)

Fountain Before a Temple

Charcoal, heightened with white gouache, on blue-gray paper
18 x 11 1/4 inches (457 x 285 mm)

Thaw Collection

Item description: 

Carl Gustav Carus, physician, scientist, psychologist, and artist, wrote a theory of "earth-life painting" inspired by the idea of nature as a "world soul" uniting the human spirit with God. According to the theory, the pure mind of the artist should give birth to divine ideas expressed through a "consecrated heart" and a hand practiced in close study of the landscape. Thus artistic creations would express the inner truth of nature and raise the viewer to a state of mystical contemplation. One of his essays suggests an interpretation of this drawing, in which the dynamic water "excites and enlivens our feelings" while the moon uplifts us "by the thought that the infinite has prevailed over the finite."