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Making of a Romantic Icon: The Religious Context of Friedrich Overbeck's "Italia und Germania" (Transactions of the American Philosophical Society) [Paperback]

Lionel Gossman

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Book Description

November 1, 2007 0871699753 978-0871699756
Winner of the American Philosophical Society’s 2007 John Frederick Lewis Award for best book or monograph.

In this original and thought-provoking book, Lionel Gossman, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Princeton University, focuses on Franz Overbeck's "Italia and Germania" to discuss the importance of religious conversion in Romantic thought. Gossman has an impressive knowledge of the historical situation and philosophical background of the time. Gossman gives excellent translations from original German sources that are not only accurate but may enable the Anglophone reader to truly grasp the spirit of the sources.

This book serves as a thoughtful and elegantly written introduction to the way of thinking of one of the most important of the Nazerene painters.It treats the evolution of the Nazarene artists' preoccupation with religious issues in an engaging manner and offers a social-historical and theological context to Overbeck's painting by looking interestingly at a wide range of issues and contacts in his early Nazarene period. Illustrations.

Editorial Reviews


In this well-illustrated essay, Gossman discusses Overbeck's well-known painting to show layers of religious and philosophical context. Details concerning the artist's life and the artistic and intellectual circle around him in Rome are described in the account. --Book News

About the Author

Lionel Gossman is an award-winning Scottish-American scholar of French literature. He taught Romance Languages at Johns Hopkins University and Princeton University. Gossman has authored 14 books, and written extensively on the history, theory and practice of historiography, and more recently, on aspects of German cultural history. He is an Officer in the Ordre des Palmes Academiques and an elected Member of the American Philosophical Society.

From the Author:

I was led to the once-influential Nazarene artists while preparing the Burckhardt section of my book on Basel. Burckhardt condemned them as retrograde, but I found their rejection of realism refreshing. The rigorous composition, pronounced linearity, and flat colors of their paintings and frescoes, and the strength, yet delicacy of their drawings appealed to me. They also struck me as quite close to the the neo-classical artists, with whom they are sometimes contrasted, but with whom several of them had in fact studied and who, like them, denounced the subservience of baroque and rococo art to the desires and pleasures of the rich and powerful.

The painting now known as Italia und Germania by Friedrich Overbeck, was the culmination of a series of drawings and paintings executed by Overbeck and his close friend Franz Pforr. But the preliminary works were entitled 'Sulamith und Maria.' In view of the keen attention the Nazarenes paid to the literary and symbolic aspects of their work, and the important role religion played in their art and lives, I was intrigued and moved by this title and I wondered what it might have meant to the artists. The Making of a Romantic Icon resulted from my attempt to find out.

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