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Fountain Before a Temple

Carl Gustav Carus (1789–1869)
Fountain Before a Temple
Charcoal, heightened with white gouache, on blue-gray paper, [1854–57]
18 x 11 1/4 inches (457 x 285 mm)
Thaw Collection; EVT 205
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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."

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.