Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud

It is back again: over 150 years since the wolf was thought to have been eradicated in Germany it has recently started to return to our latitudes. And with this we see the recurrence of the old stories of the wicked wolf and the fears people often feel towards what is now a protected species. Reason enough for the Wallraf to view the topic from the angle of art history in a dedicated exhibition. In spring 2019 the museum will mount its special exhibition The Wolf – between Myth and Folk Tale. Well over thirty depictions of wolves by artists such as Rubens, Piranesi, Corinth and Klinger will tell of the complex relationship between man and wolf from an artistic perspective.


The tracks of the wolf can be found in myths and folk tales from many parts of the world: a she-wolf suckled Romulus and Remus, Zeus transformed King Lycaon into a wolf as punishment, and in the Bible the Good Shepherd Jesus saved his flock when it was threatened by wolves. Similarly in German folk tales the wolf mainly appears as a wicked creature. As in Grimms’ Fairy Tales, where he slyly gains the confidence of an unsuspecting Little Red Riding Hood so as to devour first her grandmother and then the girl herself. But the exhibition The Wolf is not devoted merely to literary sources, but above all to representations in printed form from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Artists such as Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, Peter Paul Rubens, Johann Elias Ridinger, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Gustav Doré, Lovis Corinth and Max Klinger have all taken a long look at both the wolf and the legends that have grown up around it. With this they have created new if no less fanciful images of the wolf and set them loose in the world. With this the exhibition also pursues a trail that leads into the depths of the human imagination, so as to cast a light on the complicated relationship between humans and wolves.