Goethe and Palladio

Goethe's study of the relationship between art and nature, leading through architecture to the discovery of the metamorphosis of plants

David Lowe and Simon Sharp

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Follows Goethe's Italian Journey to discover how Art and Nature jointly influenced his work on metamorphosis.

216 x 138 mm
Lindisfarne Books
Philosophy of the Natural World; Art & Literature
9 b/w photographs
96 pages
Publication date:
26 Jan 2006


Goethe wrote his Italian Journey during his travels south to Italy in the late eighteenth century. David Lowe and Simon Sharp spent 10 months re-creating his journey day-by-day; this unusual and fascinating study into how the twin pillars of Art and Nature influenced Goethe, is the result.

Goethe's writings oscillate between his experiences of Palladio's classical architecture, and experiencing nature. For the first time, David Lowe and Simon Sharp pull these two strands together and show how they are related: how the living geometries and harmonious proportions of buildings can reflect similar principles in nature. Specifically, they argue that Goethe's experiences in Italy helped form his understanding of metamorphosis, leading to his discovery of the 'archetypal plant'.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Imagination and the Senses
3. The Way to All Art and Life
4. From the Brenner Pass to Venice
5. The School of Seeing
6. Conclusion
Appendix I: Quotations from Goethe's Italian Journey
Appendix II: The Mysterious Architecture of the Formative Process


'A well-researched and very welcome addition to Goethe studies. The authors show, without being dryly academic, how imaginative thinking can develop.'
-- Margaret Jones, Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain Newsletter, June 2006

'An important study centering around Goethe's famous Italian Journey in the autumn of 1786.'
-- David Lorimer, Scientific & Medical Network Review, Spring 2006


David Lowe was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire. He studied Philosophy and Politics at Queens College, Oxford, and later did his M.A. in Art History at Oxford Brooks. His time is taken up increasingly by lecturing and study groups in the United States and United Kingdom.

Simon Sharp is a teacher of art and design. He is currently director of the Leonardo Centre at Uppingham School in Rutland, England. He uses Goethe’s approach to observation extensively in his teaching and practical demonstrations.

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