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Pilgrim at the Gate (Einsiedler an der Pforte)

Artist:
Karl Blechen (German, Cottbus 1798–1840 Berlin)
Date:
1827
Medium:
Lithograph
Dimensions:
Image: 11 3/16 x 7 7/8 in. (28.4 x 20 cm) Sheet: 19 5/16 × 13 7/16 in. (49 × 34.2 cm)
Classification:
Prints
Credit Line:
Janet Lee Kadesky Ruttenberg Fund, in honor of Colta Ives, 2007
Accession Number:
2007.225
Not on view
A pilgrim looks up from his book to gaze into the distance as brilliant sunshine streams into the shadowed structure where he rests. This tranquil scene is the most delicate and subtle of Karl Blechen's prints, an early work by the painter and draftsman whose prolific career lasted only a brief fifteen years. Blechen created some fifty etchings and lithographs during his lifetime, and these are among his rarest works. He produced this lithograph for a portfolio published in 1827 by the artists' group the Berlinischer Künstlerverein. That year, he left a job as a designer of stage sets at the Königstadt Theater in Berlin to embark on a career as an independent artist. Given his experience, the prominence he gave here to the evocative setting seems hardly surprising.
Blechen's imagery is indebted to the Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich, whom he probably met when he visited Dresden in 1823. Yet except for the crumbling building and the figure looking away from the viewer, this sunny scene is decidedly different in tone from Friedrich's moody, moonlit depictions. The influence of such dark romantic imagery recurs in others of Blechen's works, but here the atmosphere is remarkably bright and uplifting.
Inscription: Inscribed in pencil, verso, top right, "Blechen [?] [?] 225."
Vendor: C. G. Boerner LLC, New York
Rave 484; Berlin (1940), abb. 484); P. Halm, "Bild vom Stein," 1961, no. 30.
Stijn Alsteens, Nadine Orenstein, Perrin Stein "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2007-2008." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 66, no. 2, Fall 2008, pp. 34-5, ill.



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