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Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the Nineteenth Century

Rewald, Sabine (2011)

This title is out of print.

New York Book Festival Award in Photography/Art, Honorable Mention (2011)

Read an interview with Sabine Rewald at Now at the Met.

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Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History (11)
Rooms With a View: The Open Window in the Nineteenth Century

Everything at a distance turns into poetry: distant mountains, distant people, distant events: all become Romantic. (Novalis, 1798)

This exhibition focuses on a subject treasured by the Romantics: the view through an open window. German, French, Danish, and Russian artists first took up the theme in the second decade of the nineteenth century. Juxtaposing near and far, the window is a metaphor for unfulfilled longing. Painters distilled this feeling in pictures of hushed, spare rooms with contemplative figures; studios with artists at work; and open windows as the sole motif. As the exhibition reveals, these pictures may shift markedly in tone, yet they share a distinct absence of the anecdote and narrative that characterized earlier genre painting.

Presented in four galleries, Rooms with a View features the works of about forty artists, most from Northern Europe. The first exhibition of its kind, it ranges from the initial appearance of the motif in two sepia drawings of about 18057ndash;6 by Caspar David Friedrich to paintings featuring luminous empty rooms of the late 1840s by Adolph Menzel. Many of the artists are little known on these shores, their works unseen until now.