Entering an ‘Enchanted World’ at the Art Museum

"Cinderella," an 1847 etching by Eugen Napoleon Neureuther, is on display as part of the exhibit.  Credit: Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
“Cinderella,” an 1847 etching by Eugen Napoleon Neureuther, is on display as part of the exhibit.
Credit: Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

At the center of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s new exhibition, “The Enchanted World of German Romantic Prints,” an 1836 etching sits side-by-side with a flat-panel, high-resolution digital screen. For once, modern technology actually helps look closer at the more antiquated piece, rather than distracting from it: The screen isolates figures and details that might otherwise get lost in the florid details of the print, which tells the story of Sleeping Beauty.

That pairing provides a key to enjoying the exhibit. Each of the 125 etchings, lithographs, and woodcuts in the show is rich in fine detail and hidden elements, which rewards close, lingering examination. “A lot of these prints are like flypaper,” said Cordula Grewe, a fellow in art history at the University of Pennsylvania, during a preview of the exhibition. “At first you just find them pretty and decorative, but the longer you look you get trapped and start to think about God and nature, the cosmos, myths and legends, and you end up never leaving them alone.”

That was what happened to curator John W. Ittmann more than 20 years ago, when he arrived at the museum to help catalogue its collection of French prints. “I was let loose in the boxes,” Ittmann recalled, “and pulled out these boxes of prints in the German aisle by artists I’d never heard of. And I’ve been digging into it ever since.”

It’s not hard to understand what captivated Ittmann as one contemplates some of the gorgeous prints on display, which range from lush landscapes to fairy tale illustrations, intimate family portriats to bold historic scenes. The works are all culled from the museum’s holdings of 8,500 prints from the German Romantic period, the largest in the country. Most come from a collection of 40,000 European prints acquired by John S. Phillips in the mid-19th century.

German artist Ferdinand Olivier represents the days of the week with seven snapshots of 19th-century Salzburg, revealing intimate details of daily life. Johann Gottfried Shadow freezes a pair of dancers in their graceful movements; and Ludwig Grimm provides one of the earliest illustrations for the fairy tale collections of his famed older brothers.

By encouraging such intense contemplation, these prints, Ittmann said, inspire “a kind of poetic revery. Prints, as much as anything, invite the individual to come and sink into this mood of being drawn into a landscape or a legend of the past.”

“The Enchanted World of German Romantic Prints”
Through Dec. 29
Philadelphia Museum of Art
26th St. and Ben Franklin Pkwy.
$14-$20, 215-763-8100
www.philamuseum.org


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Monday is the deadline to register for Pennsylvania…

If residents want to vote in the May primary, which includes a vote for a new City Council member, today is the deadline to register.

National

Miss America thinks school should reconsider discipline of…

A Pa. student was suspended for asking Miss America to prom.

Local

Aria Health Torresdale workers caught selling prescription drugs

Two Aria Health at Torresdale employees were fired amid accusations they sold prescription drugs out of the Northeast Philadelphia campus.

National

Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter died Sunday from prostate cancer…

Former U.S. professional boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who spent 19 years in prison for murder and then was released after it was determined he did not get a fair trial,…

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

NHL

Ray Emery steps up in Flyers’ Game 2…

Sure, he allowed two goals in the Rangers’ first four shots Sunday afternoon, but it’s about how you start, not how you finish.

NHL

Flyers come from behind, even series with Rangers

The Flyers overcame a two-goal deficit to get a much-needed win at Madison Square Garden Sunday.

MLB

Phillies get set for four against the Dodgers

The Phillies will face tough starting pitching out west against the Dodgers this week.

MLB

Phillies notebook: Cole Hamels returns this week

The Phillies should receive a big boost when Cole Hamels returns during the Dodgers series.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.