Like Madame de Staël in France and Rahel Varnhagen von Ense in Berlin, author Bettina von Arnim (1785–1859) was highly interested in cultural and political affairs. Her social circle included some of the most prominent figures of her era: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834), Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767–1835), and the brothers Grimm, among others. Arnim was the sister of Clemens Brentano (1778–1842) and the wife of Achim von Arnim (1781–1831), both Romantic writers. In addition to being a prolific writer of fiction herself, Bettina von Arnim also wrote about social reforms and women’s issues and was perceived by her contemporaries as a confident and unconventional woman. This watercolor of a musical evening at Arnim’s Berlin home is illustrative of the Romantics’ ideal of the “total work of art” [Gesamtkunstwerk]. Three busts hang prominently on the wall behind the musical quartet, and the blue sideboard in the background supports what appears to be a large (and rather curious) plaster sculpture of a seated figure elevated on series of bases. Watercolor by Carl Johann Arnold (1829–1916), 1856.

Quartet Evening at Bettina von Arnim’s in Berlin (1856)

  • Carl Johann Arnold


Source: Original: Frankfurt am Main, Freies Deutsches Hochstift/ Frankfurter Goethe-Museum mit Goethe-Haus

Reproduction: bpk-Bildagentur, image number 00010226. For rights inquiries, please contact Art Resource at requests@artres.com (North America) or bpk-Bildagentur at kontakt@bpk-bildagentur.de (for all other countries)

© bpk / Lutz Braun