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Western art

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Morning, from the suite Times of day



Johann Gottlieb Seyfert


1761 - 1824

after Philipp Otto Runge


1777 - 1810


Although he made a late start to his career and died at 33, Runge ranks second only to Caspar David Friedrich among German Romantic artists. He was of a mystical, pantheistic turn of mind, and sought a totally new art of symbolic forms based on pure outline to express his ideas about the harmony of the universe.

Runge began working on the subject of the ‘Times of day’ in 1802 as mural designs for a specially constructed chapel. He intended the murals to be seen to the accompaniment of poetry and music. The ambitious project, which occupied the artist until his death in 1810, was never realized however.
Early in the planning stages, Runge made four large drawings which served as models for the set of engravings intended to advertise his designs to the artistic community and announce Runge’s plans to create a series of large paintings. The prints were praised by no less a figure than the writer Goethe, who displayed a set given to him personally by the artist, in his music room.

The iconography of the 'Times of day' is centered around the symbolism of flowers. In ‘Morning’ a white lily, the symbol of light and celestial love, rises from the earth as a representation of sunrise; three putti, or genii at the top of the flower represent the Holy Trinity. In its pendant, ‘Evening’, a female personification of night rises above the lily, seen sinking into clouds underneath a garland of roses, which represent earthly love, a sentiment reflected in the embracing children below. ‘Day’ shows a lily in full bloom, with a mother and her children in a bower surrounded by ears of grain and fruit as emblems of earthly love and fertility. Its pendant, ‘Night’, is dominated by poppies, the traditional symbol of night and sleep.




Media category


Materials used

etching and engraving


ii of 2 states


71.0 x 47.7 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


European Art Collection Benefactors’ Fund 2014

Accession number


Artist information

Johann Gottlieb Seyfert

Works in the collection


Artist information

after Philipp Otto Runge

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

  • Under the Stars, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 21 Mar 2020–07 Feb 2021


Jörg Träger, Munich/Germany

C.G. Boerner GmbH, Düsseldorf/Germany, Purchased by the AGNSW from C.G. Boerner 2014. Purchased by Boerner from Karl & Faber Kunstauktionen, Munich, 7 November 2014, Lot 269

Referenced in 2 publications


Antony Griffiths and Frances Carey, German printmaking in the age of Goethe, London, 1994, 202 (illus.). 132a

Jörg Träger, Philipp Otto Runge und sein Werk. Monographie und kritischer Katalog, Munich, 1975, (illus.). 280B