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ID number:  BIRBI-92.6
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Artist / Maker:  Kolbe, Carl Wilhelm (1759-1835)
Title / Object name:  A youth playing the lyre to a maiden at a fountain in luxuriant vegetation
Object type:  Print
Place made:  Dessau
Culture:  German
Date made:  1802/3
Materials:  Etching
Measurements:  392 x 509 mm (plate); 432 x 544 mm (paper); 630 x 680 mm (mount)
Provenance:  Purchased from Christopher Mendez, London, December 1992
BIRBI-92.6.jpg

The surreal and strange overgrown foliage of this scene is a distinctive feature of Kolbe’s extraordinary and original art. He termed such images ‘Kraüerblätter’, or ‘vegetable leaves’. The intricate detail of the enlarged shrubbery is accentuated by the contrasting areas of light and shadow. The vegetation almost engulfs the idyllic love scene, symbolising the enveloping and slightly threatening power of nature compared with the fragility of man. A dreamlike fantasy, the image is suggestive of a wish to be at one with nature, or even to be consumed by it.

Inscriptions / Translations:  Incriptions, sale stamps & c: inscr. in pencil, l. r., outside plate mark: Gessner LB 25

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