Siegfried Battles with the Gatekeeper
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Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld
German, 1865
Gray ink on buff-colored paper
7 15/16 x 5 5/16 in.

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This design was made in preparation for an illustration of the Nibelungenlied (Song of the Nibelungs), a medieval epic poem that gained prominence in the mid-1800s with the rise of German nationalism. Siegfried, a legendary, dragon-slaying hero, has reached the land of the Nibelungs by boat, visible at the base of the cliff. Here he is shown fighting his way into a fortress, where he will seize a treasure.

Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld's composition frames the text field on two sides and cleverly allows the narrative to unfold in time and space.