1798 Cottbus – Berlin 1840
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Segnender Einsiedler – A Hermit Blessing a Young Couple 1827/28
crayon and pen lithograph on firm wove paper 327 x 217 mm (12 14/16 x 8 9/16 inches)
annotated in pen and ink at lower left “Blechen gez. u. lith.”
Rave 485 (not ill.)
Carl Blechen: Zwischen Romantik und Realismus, exh. cat. Berlin, 1990, p. 188, no. 274
The print belongs to a group of works that all show a similar subject matter. Hermits were a popular topic in literature and art of the period. This fascination had already started in the second half of the eighteenth century when hermitages could be found in many of the landscape gardens designed in the “new” English manner. The picturesque aesthetic preferred them built in a ruinous state and sometimes, budget permitting, they even came with a resident hermit. Plenty of lonely monks would soon also wander through the literature of German Romanticism, especially in the then-popular subgenre of the “monastery novel.”
Following this trend, the Berliner Künstler-Verein held a competition on this theme. Artists were asked to submit drawings and the association would select the best ones for publication. During the association’s meeting in March 1827, three of Blechen’s designs were chosen. Whereas monks in a variety of different settings appear often in works by the artist, we do not know with certainty which of the surviving drawings were the ones that were chosen by the members of the Künstler-Verein.
Blechen drew the present lithograph directly on the stone – as is attested by him signing it “B inv. & fec.” within the composition at lower right. It is loosely based on a drawing described in Rave’s catalogue raisonné as no. 509 (where it is erroneously illustrated under the entry for the print [no. 485]). The lithograph was then supposedly published in Lithographierte Blätter nach Aufgaben des Berliner Künstler-Vereins (first issue, Berlin 1828). However, the edition of this portfolio must have been very small. So far, only one incomplete copy could be traced and it includes only one print by Blechen which shows not a monkish scene but a Flight into Egypt (Rave 488). It is therefore hardly surprising that impressions of Segnender Einsiedler are of the utmost rarity.