Throughout his career, Philipp Otto Runge used scissors to cut remarkable freehand silhouettes of plants. Here he renders the curving slender stem of a poppy, its spiky leaves, and the individual scallops of each petal with astounding precision. In the unlikely medium of flat-white paper he captures the living specimen's vitality and individuality. While Runge's early black silhouettes conform to the Romantic tradition of commemorating a sitter's face by recording the shadow of his or her unique profile, his plant cutouts were made with white paper, which is more consistent with traditional depictions of animate vegetation.

White paper cutout affixed to blue-gray paper (about 1800-1803)

by Philipp Otto Runge (German, 1777-1810)

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