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May 23, 2013

Getty Research Institute Acquires Four Early 19th Century First Edition Prints by Philipp Otto Runge

The set of four prints is a first edition and one of few surviving copies of the Times of Day series, 1805


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Amy Hood
Getty Communications
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Evening from Times of Day, 1805. Philipp Otto Runge (1777–1810).
Printmakers: E.G. Krüger and J. A Darnstedt. Etching and engraving. 
The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles.


LOS ANGELES—The Getty Research Institute (GRI) announced today the acquisition of a rare first edition, Times of Day by Philip Otto Runge (1777–1810). Published in 1805, this suite of four prints representing Morning, Evening, Day and Night is widely recognized as a monument of German Romantic art.

“This remarkable set of engravings is a radical, personal expression from one of the leaders of the German Romantic movement,” said Thomas W. Gaehtgens, director of the Getty Research Institute. “It is a landmark addition to the Getty Research Institute’s important prints collection.”

Runge, along with Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840), was one of the leading painters and theorists of the German Romantic movement.

He rejected the tradition of academic painting in favor of art that symbolically expressed the essential harmony of nature, humanity, and the divine. The complex iconography of Times of Day,  which is very detailed, is meant to express the coming and departing of light—dawn, daytime, dusk and darkness—and at the same time represents the organic process of conception, growth, decay and death.

“The elegance and purity of these images stands the test of time, expressing universal themes with grace and boldness,” said Louis Marchesano, curator of prints and drawings at the Getty Research Institute. “In his own time, Runge was praised and collected by important cultural figures such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.”

From 1802 until his untimely death in 1810 at the age of 33, Runge worked obsessively on these images, carefully articulating every aspect of their compositions and frames. Early in the planning stages, he made four large outline drawings in preparation for the four final images.

This first, small edition of the four engravings, published in 1805, reflects the delicacy of Runge’s carefully constructed preparatory drawings.  Although the artist approved the production of a second, significantly larger edition, his original intent was not commercial. Runge shared his first edition with other artists and writers in order to disseminate his new artistic ideas and to announce his plans to create a large painting cycle based upon the designs. Those paintings were never completed; thus the prints are an important record of the artist’s goals.

The prints are now part of the GRI’s Special Collections, which comprise rare and unique collections in art history and visual culture from around the world, including more than 27,000 prints ranging from the Renaissance to the present.

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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations:  the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

The Getty Research Institute is an operating program of the J. Paul Getty Trust. It serves education in the broadest sense by increasing knowledge and understanding about art and its history through advanced research. The Research Institute provides intellectual leadership through its research, exhibition, and publication programs and provides service to a wide range of scholars worldwide through residencies, fellowships, online resources, and a Research Library. The Research Library—housed in the 201,000-square-foot Research Institute building designed by Richard Meier—is one of the largest art and architecture libraries in the world. The general library collections (secondary sources) include almost 900,000 volumes of books, periodicals, and auction catalogues encompassing the history of Western art and related fields in the humanities. The Research Library's special collections include rare books, artists' journals, sketchbooks, architectural drawings and models, photographs, and archival materials.

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