petrusplancius (petrusplancius) wrote,

Carl Gustav Carus

A polymath and Sunday painter who was a follower of C.D.Friedrich. This painting, which shows a window at the ruined Abbey of Oybin in Saxony, has recently been acquired by the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

An old German city in early dawn.

The studio; Friedrich made paintings and drawings like this which were imitated by Carus and Kersting.

A Balcony in Naples.

Tintern Abbey on the Welsh borders. Carus visited it when touring Britain with the King of Saxony in the 1840s (see below); he wrote an interesting account of his travels which was translated into English at the time:
This painting gives a somewhat misleading impression of the abbey, making it seem too broad and low, but it is quite appealing nonetheless.

A painting which has just been acquired by the Louvre; dawn again.

Here is Carus's account of his visit to Tintern:

For the present we drove through the rather poor-looking town, and passed on to visit the rocky valley of the Wye, and Tintern Abbey. The road first passes along the wooded and overgrown rocks, which rise above the valley of the river. The river also partakes of the singular fluctuating character of the water in the Channel, at present exhibited in the state of ebb-tide, and, therefore, appeared so singular with its wide muddy banks. At one point,a rock, clothed with green, towers up in a very picturesque manner—the ebbing river lies deep in the valley—whilst, over an opposite cleft in the rock the yellow Bristol Channel is seen stretching afar. The views here are really grand, and partake of the character of mountain scenery.

We drew up at Tintern Cottage—a small house of entertainment, at which tourists and visiters from Chepstow assemble. The arrival of the exalted traveller did not remain unknown to them, a stout " hurrah" was accompanied with the exhibition of colours quickly prepared, of cloth and of green boughs. By means of stairs cut in the rock we ascended through bushes to a still higher bold projecting rock, and there found a point of view which afforded a still more extensive panorama of the bold hilly scenery, and these rocky valleys, than the former. Longer stay, however, became impossible, as the day was rapidly declining, and we had still to see Tintern Abbey. We, therefore, returned quickly to the carriage down a steep grassy path, and drove at a rapid pace along a descending road towards the ruin. At length, on passing round a bending in the way, there lay before us the imposing structure without a roof, its walls overgrown with ivy, and hollow, empty, but beautifully adorned Gothic windows. The view of the gables and walls of this ancient abbey, seen even from without, produced a powerful effect, but when the doorkeeper opened the church-door, on our close approach, and its whole magnificent nave was all at once laid open to our view, with its large, rich, and open eastern window at the end, with its columns in the purest Gothic style, and the green ivy entwining and covering the whole edifice— the floor, instead of carpets, covered with the dark green of newly mown grass; the scene operated with an enchanting effect in the evening light, and was deeply affecting, almost even to tears. Any thing so perfect in its kind, so truly poetical, had never before been presented to my eyes. Add to this, its lonely situation, in a peaceful green valley, bytheside of a beautiful stream, and the songsof the wild wood-birds resounding in our ears; the impression was in the highest degree peculiar. The effect became deeper and more and more impressive as I wandered under these arches and among its columns. The noble architectural structure as a whole is, no doubt, calculated to work with powerful influence, but the peculiar effect produced upon my mind was only explicable to me by reflecting upon that still more powerful effect of the contemplation of a general free life of nature, the seal of that higher consecration with which the whole was impressed. Again the recollection of Friedrich was pressed upon rny mind. Here was the reality of the very thing after which he had so zealously striven, in all the fulness and truth of nature; why was he not permitted to see something so perfect in its kind; and how singular that one is obliged here again to say, that the genuine and true reality proves itself at last higher and more mighty than any thing which fancy ever can or has imagined.

At every step a new picture presented itself. Vistas through the rich, open windows, overhung with ivy. Accessory buildings in rich clair-obscur, sometimes overgrown with young sprouting branches. Old monuments, together with immense steins of ivy, and columns entwined with its thick and close foliage. On the columns where the central tower formerly rested, as in Salisbury, ayoung and slender ash had taken root and sprouted up, its top scarcely reached to the height of the side walls of the church, but its fine, green leaves waved, like -the green standard of hope, over the peaceful resting-place of the departed. It was in all respects extraordinary.

The evening twilight drew on apace; a splendid faint evening glow shone with a melancholy effect through the arched window over the entrance. What a glorious scene must this be under the clear moonlight!

I can truly say, that never did the interior of any perfect church over produce such a grand and solemn impression upon my mind, as this edifice half in ruins.

The abbey was founded by Walter de Clare, in 1131, and the building of the church was probably commenced as earlv as the twelfth century; under Henry VIII., the abbey was secularised, and became a ruin in the time of Cromwell. It now belongs to the Duke of Beaufort, who bestows the greatest attention on the care and preservation of this most beautiful of all ecclesiastical ruins.

We drove back to Chepstow late in the evening. I sank into the corner of the carriage, gave free course to my thoughts, and my reflections upon these last impressions were many and various. The train of wonderful thoughts was only disturbed by the noise of the people, and the hurraing, as his majesty approached the hotel, recalled me to a sense of what was going on.

(By the usual standards of Victorian translations from German, this is not at all bad. Carus was the King's personal physician, but he was valued by him as a travelling companion above all because he was such a cultivated man who was curious about everything. )

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