Romantic Artists in Dialogue with Nature

At the close of the eighteenth century, as the political and cultural geography of Europe was shifting, Dresden became a major center for Romantic literature, philosophy, and art. A new enthusiasm for nature among artists led to the reevaluation and flourishing of the landscape genre. Caspar David Friedrich, who moved to the city in 1798, imbued his close studies of nature with an emotional and spiritual dimension. While Friedrich never traveled south of the Alps, works by the next generation of artists—Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Theodor Rehbenitz, Franz Theobald Horny, and Ernst Ferdinand Oehme—attest to the importance of a prolonged stay in Italy in the training and development of many northerners. Draftsmen made extensive use of watercolor and sepia washes, resulting in highly finished, painterly drawings that were appreciated as works of art in their own right. Actively collected by the Kupferstich-Kabinett during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, drawings from the Romantic period are one of the institution’s great strengths.