Illustration to Goethe's Poem "Erlkönig"

Moritz von Schwind

Moritz von Schwind - Illustration to Goethe's Poem
The drawing by Moritz von Schwind exemplified German Late Romanticism that focused on balladic and fairy−tale types of scenes. Goethe’s poem has a similar plot as Jaromír Erben’s Noon Witch (Polednice) but is more dramatic in the staging of the story. The scenery includes a woodland by night whipped by strong winds and shrouded in a dense fog, in which the king of spirits appears with his entourage. The title role is played here by child imagination that sees fantastic figures in what are shapeless shreds of fog and this wild imagination ultimately “infects” the rational father, who rides away frantically to escape the “invisible” danger. The motif of a rider frantically galloping away is also present in paintings by Eugène Delocroix and illustrators of Faustus, documenting the artists’ fascination with gradated dynamism. The expression of horror as rendered by artists of the Romantic Period was regarded as the ultimate aesthetic experience in contrast to idyllic beauty.
date:
measurements: height 265 mm
width 385 mm
in collections:
material: paper
technique: pen, Indian ink, watercolour
inscription:
inventory number: K 17899
gallery collection: Collection of Prints and Drawings
licence: Creative Commons License public domain