Rooms with a View

The exhibition is made possible by the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation and The Isaacson-Draper Foundation.

The catalogue is made possible by the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation.

Rooms with a View

The Open Window in the 19th Century

April 5–July 4, 2011

Accompanied by a catalogue

Everything at a distance turns into poetry: distant mountains, distant people, distant events: all become Romantic.

—Novalis, 1798

This exhibition focuses on a subject treasured by the Romantics: the view through an open window. German, French, Danish, and Russian artists first took up the theme in the second decade of the nineteenth century. Juxtaposing near and far, the window is a metaphor for unfulfilled longing. Painters distilled this feeling in pictures of hushed, spare rooms with contemplative figures; studios with artists at work; and open windows as the sole motif. As the exhibition reveals, these pictures may shift markedly in tone, yet they share a distinct absence of the anecdote and narrative that characterized earlier genre painting.

Presented in four galleries, Rooms with a View features the works of about forty artists, most from Northern Europe. The first exhibition of its kind, it ranges from the initial appearance of the motif in two sepia drawings of about 1805–6 by Caspar David Friedrich to paintings featuring luminous empty rooms of the late 1840s by Adolph Menzel. Many of the artists are little known on these shores, their works unseen until now.

Read more about Romanticism on the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.