Gift of the McGuigan Collection in honor of Joachim Homann
This rare lithograph by the engraver Johann Nicolaus Hoff (German, 1798-1873) reproduces the painting Italy and Germany, by the Romantic painter Johann Friedrich Overbeck (German, 1789-1869). The original work, painted in 1828 and now in the Neue Pinakothek (Munich), presents an allegorical scene emphasizing the bonds of friendship between the cultures of Italy and Germany, neither of which was a nation-state at that time. The figures, identifiable by their dress, hair, and the iconic landscapes on either side, embrace tenderly. Based in Italy but maintaining strong ties to his native Germany, Overbeck was associated with the Nazarenes, a small coterie of German painters who, through their emphasis on spirituality and biblical scenes, sought to counter the influence of neoclassicism in European art. The painting by Overbeck and the personified figures of Italy and Germany are closely related to an earlier work by close friend and fellow Nazarene Franz Pforr (1788-1812), Shulamit and Maria, which depicts an allegorical scene of the ‘Old’ and New Testaments personified in the two female figures. Made in 1831, only a few years after the painting was first exhibited, the lithograph by Hoff carefully and accurately reproduces the detail and composition of Overbeck’s original.
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