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Sleeping Man with Dog in Front of an Ossuary in Nemi

Carl Blechen1829

Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

This delicate drawing in brush and ink originally formed part of a sketchbook. Carl Blechen filled the book with a selection of subjects seen in and around Rome in the spring of 1829, which he visited as part of a tour of Italy lasting nearly a year. The drawing shows the street-facing side of a gabled ossuary, in front of which we see a man in a top hat, his head slumped forward as he sits on a low bench. In his left hand he holds a freshly broken branch, which is placed at the very centre of the composition. Nestled between his legs rests a large dog, whose form merges with that of the man to create a single physical presence. The faces of both the dog and his master are hidden – in stark contrast to the skulls, which are lined up in a regular arrangement, peeking out like cheeky children from behind the grated windows of the ossuary. The drawing creates a profoundly ironic visual constellation, quite casually taking stock of the tension between life and death during a moment of indolence and calm.

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  • Title: Sleeping Man with Dog in Front of an Ossuary in Nemi
  • Creator: Karl Blechen
  • Date: 1829
  • Physical Dimensions: w27.3 x h19.8 cm
  • Type: Drawing
  • Medium: Brush and brown ink, washed, over preliminary drawing with pencil
  • Inv.-No.: SZ Blechen 519
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018511
  • External Link: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyright: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Volker-H. Schneider │ Text © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Hein-Th. Schulze Altcappenberg
  • Collection: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Artist Gender: Male
  • Artist Dates: 29.07.1789 - 23.07.1840

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