Etching on heavy wove paper
Plate: 40.7 x 53.9 cm (16 x 21 1/4 in.); Sheet: 45.7 x 59.7 cm (18 x 23 1/2 in.)
Gift of Virginia Barbato 2019.243
Carl Wilhelm Kolbe was nicknamed Eichenkolbem (Oak Kolbe) for his devotion to trees, which he credited with inspiring him to become an artist.
Youth Playing a Lyre to a Maiden by a Fountain features seated lovers singled out by the light that strikes their upper bodies, which counters the overwhelming scale of the fantastical growth of vegetation surrounding them. Carl Wilhelm Kolbe’s “vegetable sheets” broke new ground in Germany around 1800 by focusing on giant vegetation, allowing the viewer to experience the mysterious life in the undergrowth, a place untouched by humankind. Here, the vegetation is magnified, filling almost the entire sheet, and creating a distorted and somewhat surreal perspective combined with the meticulous observation of botanical details.
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