The National Library of Latvia (NLL) is pleased to announce the opening of an exhibition "A Scenic Journey from Dzerbene to Sicily. Karl Gotthard Grass" at 16.00 on 11 July in the ground floor exhibition hall. The life and creative work of Baltic German artist and writer Carl Gotthard Grass (1767-1814) recall the unbridled enthusiasm of the Enlightenment's efforts – which also in reverberated in Vidzeme – to confirm Europe's cultural-historical unity and of Latvian culture's traditional place in that rich cultural space. The exhibition will be open until 24 September. Entrance is free.
Carl Gotthard Grass was born into the family of pastor Johann Karl Grass in Dzerbene. Initially educated at home, he was accepted into Riga’s Imperial Lyceum, where his art teacher was Johann Christoph Brotze, a notable collector of Baltic historical and ethnographic material. In the late 1780s, C. G. Grass studied theology at the University of Jena (Germany). In that period, he met many cultural figures, one of his friends being Johann Christoph Friedrich Schiller. Over time, the works of and conversations with the artists he befriended become an important source of Grass's artistic growth. On completing his studies, he returned to the homeland and briefly worked as a drawing teacher in Riga. Johann Wilhelm Krauze and Garlieb Helwig Merkel became close friends of C. G. Grass.
In summers (1792-1795), Grass and Krause, together with Brotze, explored Vidzeme and Grass's drawings and watercolours are included in Johann Christoph Brotze’s manuscript "A Collection of Vidzeme monuments, prospects, coins, coats of arms, etc.", better known as "Monumente". In 1796, Grass left Riga and lived in Switzerland, but in 1803 moved to Italy, where he lived until the end of his life in 1814. Sicily became his source of inspiration and main subject, Grass dedicating travel writing, drawings and paintings to it, including a four-paintings cycle which he considered his most significant achievement. It is significant that Grass’s poetry and travel writing about Switzerland and Sicily are part of that era's evidence about individuality and its relationship with the world. It is also true that memories of his homeland and friends left behind there stayed with Grass for all of his life.
The exhibition will feature watercolours, graphics, drawings and paintings by Grass from the collections of the University of Tartu Library, the University of Latvia (LU) Academic Library, the Latvian National Museum of Art and the Mūkusala Art Salon, rare publications and manuscripts, the last including correspondence with Garlieb Merkel, and Johann Brotze's original "Monumente" manuscript from the LU Academic Library collection.
On 21 and 22 September, the NLL will host an international academic conference – "The Artist and Writer Carl Gotthard Grass in Vidzeme and Europe" – to mark the 250th anniversary of Grass's birth. The conference will be attended by researchers of K. G. Grass's oeuvre from Latvia, Germany, Switzerland, Estonia, Italy and Cyprus.
The exhibition has been curated by art historian Edvarda Šmite and cultural historian Aija Taimiņa.
The exhibition is being held with the support of the State Culture Capital Foundation.
12. VII – 31. VIII
Mon., Sat. 10.00–17.00
Tues., Thurs. 9.00-17.00
Wed., Fri. 12.00–20.00
1. IX – 24. IX
Corporate Communication Manager
National Library of Latvia
Phone: +371 29474534