“The Poems of Ossian” in European Art: On the Origins of Danish Romanticism


Since the Scottish poet James Macpherson published “The Poems of Ossian” in the second half of the 18th century, this literary monument has had a tremendous impact on artists of all kinds of art. European writers, poets, artists, musicians often embodied the “ossianic” images and plots in their works. This phenomenon is not adequately covered in Russian art history. This work provides a detailed excursion into the history of “The Poems of Ossian” in European art; including in connection with the work of K. D. Friedrich, F. O. Runge, F. Schubert, F. Mendelssohn, R. Schumann. Particular attention is paid to “ossianic” images and plots in the works of Danish masters —  the artist N. Abildgaard, who acted as the main “propagandist” of Ossian in Denmark, and the outstanding Danish composer of the 19th century N. Gade, who devoted two significant works to Ossian— the overture “Efterklange af Ossian”, and the dramatic poem (cantata) “Comala”. The article also attempts to highlight and generalize the signs of the “ossianic style” of Danish masters.


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