RICHTER, Adrian Ludwig
(b. 1803, Dresden, d. 1884, Dresden)

Genoveva in the Forest Seclusion

Oil on canvas, 117 x 101 cm
Kunsthalle, Hamburg

In the Romantic period, the fairy tale was one of the unifying elements in Germany, sung to people of all social classes in their cradle. It was not coincidence that while the Brothers Grimm were collecting their fairy tale, painting also turned to this genre, as something felt specifically German. In the fairy tale the mysterious forest provides a stage rich in symbols, where real experience can be combined with dream and fear. This explains why the motif of the forest became so popular. It was at this time that nationalistic ideas begin to be linked with the forest. Just as Gothic (Which developed in France) was immediately declared a German style, the forest was now always "the German forest". In painting the theme also recalls old German landscape painting, as in the works of Albrecht Altdorfer and Wolf Huber, classifies as the Danube school.

Richter's Genoveva in the Forest Seclusion shows us a sunlit opening in the depth of such a forest. Deep faith in God appears to lie like a protecting hand over the little group, seated amid the overpowering vitality of nature.