• Duration of the Exhibition09. October 2009 - 10. January 2010
  • VenueAlte Nationalgalerie
  • The exhibition was made possible by the Freunde der Nationalgalerie.


Carl Gustav Carus ranks among the exceptional personalities of German Romanticism. Born in 1789, the year of the French Revolution, the universally talented man obtained the degree of a doctor of philosophy and medicine as a 19-year-old. Only a little later he was appointed professor of obstetrics in Dresden and soon afterwards personal physician at the Saxon Royal court. His extensive scientific writings received much attention. In addition, from 1816 on, he also took part in exhibitions with great success as a painter. Throughout his life Carus conducted lively discussions with renowned contemporaries about questions concerning natural philosophy and the humanities. He visited Alexander von Humboldt in Berlin, exchanged correspondence with Goethe and made drawings jointly with his closest artist friend, Caspar David Friedrich, who in turn is indebted to him for many ideas.

During the 80 years of his life Carus produced more than 400 paintings and over 1000 drawings besides pursuing a brilliant career as a physician and natural scientist. He was looking for his subjects in Nature, which he studied on his travels throughout Europe. Thus, Romantic landscape painting forms the core of his artistic work: Scientific interest in geological processes and Romantic view of the world meet in detailed nature studies, impressive pictures of mountains and idyllic landscapes. Another focus of his technically versatile oeuvre lies on poetic and historical subjects, which Carus combined with sensitive views of towns, looks over lonesome rooftops, allegories of music, literary allusions to Dante and Goethe and with numerous wistful depictions of Nature. His work was based on an interdisciplinary concept, which celebrated ”Art as the peak of Science” and represents an extraordinary alternative plan to the arising specialisation and rationality of the industrialisation process during the early 19th century.

The exhibition ”Carl Gustav Carus – Nature and Idea” is devoted to the amazingly rich oeuvre of this universal scholar. Taking into account Carus’ holistic approach, the Nationalgalerie presents in addition to more than 200 works of art also medicine-historical and natural history objects as well as many of his publications, i.e. his scientific and artistic works in total. This extensive show is enlarged with selected paintings by contemporaries such as Caspar David Friedrich, Johan Christian Dahl and Caspar Wolf. The exhibition combines loans from the co-operation partner, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, with major works from the Alte Nationalgalerie as well as from public and private collections in Germany, Europe and the U.S.A.