In 1834, Carl Morgenstern had set out from Munich to Italy. Only three years later, 1837, he returned to Frankfurt. This sketchbook documents the last year in Italy before leaving for home. Between October 1836 and September 1837, he mainly sketched landscape motifs and city views in pencil. In between there are depictions of the artists’ lives in Rome, the Cervara-festivals but also two drawings by befriended artists who wrote something into Morgenstern’s sketchbook as a farewell.
The dates of the individual drawings can be used to reconstruct Morgenstern’s trips: in October 1836, he travelled from Rome along the Via Appia first to Albano, by February 1837 at the latest, he was back in Rome and took part in the Cervara festival organised by the Ponte Molle Society. In June, he travelled to Ostia, in July to Tivoli, in August to Assisi. After excursions to Venice, Padua and Vicenza, the heavily used sketchbook ends with a last stay in Venice in September 1837. Morgenstern, while drawing on his walks, captured what he had seen and experienced it both spontaneously and directly. He sketched with quick strokes, for example, the view from the main façade of St. Peter’s with its monumental figures of the apostles or the hustle and bustle of the artists’ society in the Cervara Grottoes. However, in some landscape and city views, he seems to have considered the possible later realisation of the captured motifs into a painting. For example, in 1838, he executed the wide view of the Castello di Giulio in Ostia for the president of the district of Mainz, Baron von Lichtenberg, as a souvenir in oil and noted this in his sketchbook (sheet 21 verso).
Particularly in the sketchbook’s second half, perhaps prompted by the approaching departure, there are also drawings that humorously depict artistic life in Italy, for instance, a scene with a group of open-air painters on sheet 26 recto, among them probably Louis-Jules Étex (1810‒1889), who painted their colleague Johann Baptist Kirner (1806‒1866), dressed in traditional costume, or, on sheet 29 verso, the representation of three sketching artists at the gates of Assisi, among them Hippolyte Flandrin (1809‒1864) and probably the French painter Benjamin Duston.
For a full sketchbook description, please see “Research”.
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