Philipp Otto Runge

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Self Portrait by Phillipp Otto Runge, at the Kunsthalle, Hamburg Philipp Otto Runge 005.jpg
Self Portrait by Phillipp Otto Runge, at the Kunsthalle, Hamburg

Philipp Otto Runge (German: [ˈʁʊŋə] ; 23 July 1777 – 2 December 1810) was a Romantic German painter and draughtsman. Although he made a late start to his career and died young, he is considered among the best German Romantic painters.

Romanticism period of artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that started in 18th century Europe

Romanticism was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalization of nature—all components of modernity. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. It had a significant and complex effect on politics, with romantic thinkers influencing liberalism, radicalism, conservatism and nationalism.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.


Life and work

The Hulsenbeck children, oil on canvas Philipp Otto Runge 003.jpg
The Hülsenbeck children, oil on canvas

Runge was born as the ninth of eleven children in Wolgast, Western Pomerania, then under Swedish rule, in a family of shipbuilders with ties to the Prussian nobility of Sypniewski / von Runge family. As a sickly child he often missed school and at an early age learned the art of scissor-cut silhouettes from his mother, practised by him throughout his life. In 1795 he began a commercial apprenticeship at his older brother Daniel's firm in Hamburg. In 1799 Daniel supported Runge financially to begin study of painting under Jens Juel at the Copenhagen Academy. In 1801 he moved to Dresden to continue his studies, where he met Caspar David Friedrich, Ludwig Tieck, and his future wife Pauline Bassenge. He also began extensive study of the writings of the 17th century mystic Jakob Boehme. In 1803, on a visit to Weimar, Runge unexpectedly met Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the two formed a friendship based on their common interests in color and art.

Wolgast Place in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany

For people with the surname, see Wolgast (surname).

Western Pomerania

Western Pomerania, also called Cispomerania or Hither Pomerania, is the western extremity of the historic region of the Duchy, later Province of Pomerania, nowadays divided between the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Poland.

Sypniewski family name

The surname Sypniewski is of Polish origin and centered on the Oder region where families bearing this surname are still found today. Sypniewskis can also be found all over the world, particularly in the United States, Brazil, and Germany.

In 1804 he married and moved with his wife to Hamburg. Due to imminent war dangers (Napoleonic siege of Hamburg) they relocated in 1805 to his parental home in Wolgast where they remained until 1807. In 1805 Runge's correspondence with Goethe on the subject of his artistic work and color became more intensive. Returning to Hamburg in 1807, he and his brother Daniel formed a new company in which he remained active until the end of his life. In the same year he developed the concept of the color sphere. [1] In 1808 he intensified his work on color, including making disk color mixture experiments. He also published written versions of two local folk fairy tales The fisherman and his wife and The almond tree, later included among the tales of the brothers Grimm. In 1809 Runge completed his work on the manuscript of Farben-Kugel (Color sphere), published in 1810 in Hamburg. [2] In the same year, ill with tuberculosis, Runge painted another self-portrait as well as portraits of his family and brother Daniel. The last of his four children was born on the day after Runge's death. [3]

Hamburg City in Germany

Hamburg is the second-largest city in Germany with a population of over 1.8 million.

Siege of Hamburg

The city of Hamburg was one of the most powerful fortresses east of the Rhine. After being freed from Napoleonic rule by advancing Cossacks and other following Coalition troops it was once more occupied by Marshal Davout's French XIII Corps on 28 May 1813, at the height of the German Campaign during the War of the Sixth Coalition from French rule and occupation. Ordered to hold the city at all costs, Davout launched a characteristically energetic campaign against a similar numbered Army of the North made up of Prussian and other Coalition troops under the command of Count von Wallmoden-Gimborn, winning a number of minor engagements. Neither force was decidedly superior and the war ground to a halt and resulted in a rather stable front line between Lübeck and Lauenburg and further south along the Elbe river, even after the end of the cease-fire of the summer 1813. In October 1813 a French column's movement towards Dannenberg resulted in the only major engagement in the North of Germany, the Battle of the Göhrde. The defeated French troops retreated back to Hamburg.

Der Morgen ("Morning", 1808), oil on canvas Philipp Otto Runge 001.jpg
Der Morgen ("Morning", 1808), oil on canvas

Runge was of a mystical, deeply Christian turn of mind, and in his artistic work he tried to express notions of the harmony of the universe through symbolism of colour, form, and numbers. He considered blue, yellow, and red to be symbolic of the Christian trinity and equated blue with God and the night, red with morning, evening, and Jesus, and yellow with the Holy Spirit (Runge 1841, I, p. 17). He also wrote poetry and to this end he planned a series of four paintings called The Times of the Day, designed to be seen in a special building and viewed to the accompaniment of music and poetry. This concept was common to romantic artists, who tried to achieve a "total art", or a fusion between all forms of art. In 1803 Runge had large-format engravings made of the drawings of the Times of the Day series that became commercially successful and a set of which he presented to Goethe. He painted two versions of Morning (Kunsthalle, Hamburg), but the others did not advance beyond drawings. "Morning" was the start of a new type of landscape, one of religion and emotion.

Painting Practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface

Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a solid surface. The medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush, but other implements, such as knives, sponges, and airbrushes, can be used. The final work is also called a painting.

Music form of art using sound

Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική . See glossary of musical terminology.

Poetry form of literature

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.

Runge was also one of the best German portraitists of his period; several examples are in Hamburg. His style was rigid, sharp, and intense, at times almost naïve.

Portrait Artistic representation of one or more persons

A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person. For this reason, in photography a portrait is generally not a snapshot, but a composed image of a person in a still position. A portrait often shows a person looking directly at the painter or photographer, in order to most successfully engage the subject with the viewer.

Runge and color

Runge's Farbenkugel (color sphere) Runge Farbenkugel.jpg
Runge's Farbenkugel (color sphere)

Runge's interest in color was the natural result of his work as a painter and of having an enquiring mind. Among his accepted tenets was that "as is known, there are only three colors, yellow, red, and blue" (letter to Goethe of July 3, 1806). His goal was to establish the complete world of colors resulting from mixture of the three, among themselves and together with white and black. In the same lengthy letter, Runge discussed in some detail his views on color order and included a sketch of a mixture circle, with the three primary colors forming an equilateral triangle and, together with their pair-wise mixtures, a hexagon.

He arrived at the concept of the color sphere sometime in 1807, as indicated in his letter to Goethe of November 21 of that year, by expanding the hue circle into a sphere, with white and black forming the two opposing poles. A color mixture solid of a double-triangular pyramid had been proposed by Tobias Mayer in 1758, a fact known to Runge. His expansion of that solid into a sphere appears to have had an idealistic basis rather than one of logical necessity. With his disk color mixture experiments of 1807, he hoped to provide scientific support for the sphere form. Encouraged by Goethe and other friends, he wrote in 1808 a manuscript describing the color sphere, published in Hamburg early in 1810. In addition to a description of the color sphere, it contains an illustrated essay on rules of color harmony and one on color in nature written by Runge's friend Henrik Steffens. An included hand-colored plate shows two different views of the surface of the sphere as well as horizontal and vertical slices showing the organization of its interior (see figure on left).

Color solid the three-dimensional representation of a color model

A color solid is the three-dimensional representation of a color model, an analog of the two-dimensional color wheel. The added spatial dimension allows a color solid to depict an added dimension of color variation. Whereas a two-dimensional color wheel typically depicts the variables of hue and lightness, a color solid adds the variable of colorfulness, allowing the sphere to depict all conceivable colors in an organized three-dimensional structure.

Tobias Mayer German astronomer

Tobias Mayer was a German astronomer famous for his studies of the Moon.

Henrik Steffens German philosopher

Henrik Steffens, was a Norwegian-born Danish philosopher, scientist, and poet.

Runge's premature death limited the impact of this work. Goethe, who had read the manuscript before publication, mentioned it in his Farbenlehre of 1810 as "successfully concluding this kind of effort." It was soon overshadowed by Michel Eugène Chevreul's hemispherical system of 1839. A spherical color order system was patented in 1900 by Albert Henry Munsell, soon replaced with an irregular form of the solid.

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Munsell color system

In colorimetry, the Munsell color system is a color space that specifies colors based on three properties of color: hue, value (lightness), and chroma. It was created by Professor Albert H. Munsell in the first decade of the 20th century and adopted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as the official color system for soil research in the 1930s.

German Romanticism intellectual movement in the culture of German-speaking countries in the late-18th and early 19th centuries

German Romanticism was the dominant intellectual movement of German-speaking countries in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, influencing philosophy, aesthetics, literature and criticism. Compared to English Romanticism, the German variety developed relatively late, and, in the early years, coincided with Weimar Classicism (1772–1805). In contrast to the seriousness of English Romanticism, the German variety of Romanticism notably valued wit, humour, and beauty.

Swedish Pomerania historical domain of Sweden

Swedish Pomerania was a Dominion under the Swedish Crown from 1630 to 1815, situated on what is now the Baltic coast of Germany and Poland. Following the Polish War and the Thirty Years' War, Sweden held extensive control over the lands on the southern Baltic coast, including Pomerania and parts of Livonia and Prussia.

Complementary colors pairs of colors which, when combined, cancel each other out

Complementary colors are pairs of colors which, when combined or mixed, cancel each other out by producing a grayscale color like white or black. When placed next to each other, they create the strongest contrast for those two colors. Complementary colors may also be called "opposite colors."

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge German chemist

Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge was a German analytical chemist. Runge identified the mydriatic effects of belladonna extract, identified caffeine, and discovered the first coal tar dye.

RYB color model historical set of colors

RYB denotes the use of red, yellow, and blue pigments as primary colors in art and design, particularly painting.

<i>Theory of Colours</i> book by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Theory of Colours is a book by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe about the poet's views on the nature of colours and how these are perceived by humans. It was published in German in 1810 and in English in 1840. The book contains detailed descriptions of phenomena such as coloured shadows, refraction, and chromatic aberration.

A color model is an abstract mathematical model describing the way colors can be represented as tuples of numbers, typically as three or four values or color components. When this model is associated with a precise description of how the components are to be interpreted, the resulting set of colors is called "color space." This section describes ways in which human color vision can be modeled.

Otto Johannes Brendel was a German art historian and scholar of Etruscan art and archaeology.

On Vision and Colors is a treatise by Arthur Schopenhauer that was published in May 1816 when the author was 28 years old. Schopenhauer had extensive discussions with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe about the poet's Theory of Colours of 1810, in the months around the turn of the years 1813 and 1814, and initially shared Goethe's views. Their growing theoretical disagreements and Schopenahauer's criticisms made Goethe distance himself from his young collaborator. Although Schopenhauer considered his own theory superior, he would still continue to praise Goethe’s work as an important introduction to his own.

Goethean science concerns the natural philosophy of German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Although primarily known as a literary figure, Goethe did research in morphology, anatomy, and optics. He also developed a phenomenological approach to natural history, an alternative to Enlightenment natural science, which is still debated today among scholars.

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Remarks on Colour

Remarks on Colour was one of Ludwig Wittgenstein's last works, written during a visit to Vienna in 1950 while dying of cancer. Believing that philosophical puzzles about colour can only be resolved through attention to the involved language games, he considers Goethe's propositions in the Theory of Colours, and the observations of Philipp Otto Runge in an attempt to clarify the use of language about colour.

David Veit, was a German doctor and writer.

Johann Friedrich Rochlitz German writer and historian

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Stephen Mueller was an American painter whose color field and Lyrical Abstraction canvases took a turn towards pop. He earned his B.F.A. in painting from the University of Texas, Austin in 1969 and his M.F.A. at Bennington College in 1971 where the influence of Clement Greenberg and the color field school ran high; although he used that style as a stepping off point while incorporating many different spiritual symbols and motifs, so as not to remain entirely abstract.

Ferdinand Olivier German artist

Johann Heinrich Ferdinand Olivier (1785–1841) was a German painter associated with the Nazarene movement.

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  1. Maltzahn, H. 1940, Philipp Otto Runge's Briefwechsel mit Goethe, Weimar: Verlag der Goethe-Gesellschaft.
  2. Runge, P. O. 1810, Die Farben-Kugel, oder Construction des Verhaeltnisses aller Farben zueinander, Hamburg: Perthes.
  3. Runge, P. O. 1840/41, Hinterlassene Schriften', 2. vols., D. Runge, ed., Hamburg: Perthes.'