Visual arts

Vaughan, W. and Loges, N. (2019) Visual arts. In: Brahms in Context. Composers in Context . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 286-295. ISBN 9781107163416 (hardback) 9781316730317 (e-book)


Brahms was a man with wide cultural interests that ranged far beyond his musical practice, as evinced by his circle of friends, as well as the contents of his library. He had close relationships with several leading German artists and art historians of his time. Once he was financially stable, he accumulated a substantial collection of prints that included both modern and classical artists, focussing on German and Italian art (much like his musical interests, and in keeping with prevailing German tastes). He showed little interest in French contemporaries, despite the towering reputation of contemporary painters like Delacroix and Courbet. On a personal level, his interest in art was part of his general thirst for Bildung, or all-round cultural cultivation. Already in the late 1850s, he met Herman Grimm through Joseph Joachim. Grimm was a historian of art and literature, and his biography of Michelangelo (which Brahms owned and read) is still consulted today.

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