Lot 2
  • 2


20,000 - 30,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Philipp Otto Runge
  • Thistle
  • paper collage laid on paper
  • 31 by 20cm., 12 by 8in.


Fritz Nathan, Zurich; thence by descent to the present owner


Winterthur, Kunstverein Winterthur, Pflanzenaquarelle - Pflanzenwerke 1480-1850, 1938, no. 85/86
Tübingen, Kunsthalle Tübingen, Die Kunst des Handelns: Meisterwerke des 14. bis 20. Jahrhunderts bei Fritz und Peter Nathan, 2005-06, no. 41, illustrated in the catalogue


Cornelia Richter, Philipp Otto Runge. Ich weiß eine schöne Blume. Werkverzeichnis der Scherenschnitte, Munich, 1981, p. 130, no. 131, catalogued & illustrated

Catalogue Note

Runge ranks alongside Friedrich as one of the most influential German Romantic artists. Like Friedrich he grew up on the Pomerania’s Baltic coast, not fifteen miles from Friedrich's hometown of Greifswald. From a family of shipbuilders, he learnt the art of scissor-cut silhouettes as a boy from his mother, even before learning to draw and paint, and continued to practise the medium throughout his life. His elder brother Daniel sponsored his formal artistic training at the Copenhagen Academy. In 1801 Runge moved to Dresden to continue his studies at the Academy, there becoming a close friend of Friedrich, three years his senior. Both artists had much in common - both were from the north, had a Protestant upbringing, were deeply religious, and for both the study of nature underpinned their art. In nature, they found religious revelation, and in individual plants or trees the living spirit of the Divine. Based on exacting observation of plants he encountered on walks in the countryside and the species they depict immediately recognisable, Runge's silhouettes are nevertheless schematic, idealised, rather than mimetic botanical portraits - not unlike Goethe’s concept of the ‘Urpflanze’ (or ‘primal plant’). Just as Friedrich manipulated landscape in his paintings to convey a deeper meaning, so the artfulness of Runge’s scissor-cuts conveys the notion of the origins and harmony of the universe. The blue background further enhances their meaning, blue in the scheme of Runge’s colour symbolism equating to God.