OVERBECK, Friedrich
(b. 1789, Lübeck, d. 1869, Roma)

Italia and Germania

1815-28
Oil on canvas, 94 x 104 cm
Neue Pinakothek, Munich

This painting was inspired by the novel and painting Shulamit and Mary by Franz Pforr. In his painting Pforr separates the Italian and the German worlds, the Old and the New Testament, while Overbeck eliminates the division and creates a sisterly unity. Rightly the title was changed five years later to Italia and Germania, for the clothes, the laurel and myrtle wreaths and of course the different landscapes and houses make it very evident what is meant. The physiognomy and the character of the two women is Overbeck's interpretation of Italian and German girls. The girls are shown as imaginary brides, wonderfully idealized and so delicately perceived that they have hardly an equal in Nazarene art. Overbeck has set a monument to the encounter of German artists with Italy that could hardly be more ardent or worthy of its subject.