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This watercolour was created during Carstens’ Berlin period (1787–1792) and depicts a dramatic scene from Sophocles’ play Philoctetes (verse 12, lines 53 ff.). The work captures an important phase in Carstens’ development as an artist. The protagonists are characterized through a melodramatic gesture. This and the dynamic tonality both reveal the still-dominant influence of Baroque models upon the artist. The new impulses of Classicism – in which Carstens, together with Schadow and Langhans would later play a significant role – had not yet established themselves in the Berlin of the years immediately following the death of Frederick II of Prussia. Carstens was appointed professor of the academy in 1790. Unhappy in this role of a teacher, he yearned to freely pursue his own work as an artist in Rome; in 1792, he moved there, where attained full maturity as an artist.

Details

  • Title: Philoctetes aiming the bow of Hercules at Odysseus
  • Creator: Asmus Jakob Carstens
  • Date: 1790
  • Physical Dimensions: w58.8 x h49.5 cm
  • Type: Paper
  • Medium: Pen and brown ink and watercolours on greyish yellow paper
  • Inv.-No.: SZ Carstens 56
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018511
  • External Link: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyright: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Jörg P. Anders │ Text © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Gottfried Riemann
  • Collection: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Artist Place of Death: Rome, Italy
  • Artist Place of Birth: St Jürgen bei Schleswig, Germany
  • Artist Gender: Male
  • Artist Dates: 1754.05.10 - 1798.05.25

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