German painter and draughtsman. Although he made a late start to his career and died young, he ranks second only to Friedrich
among German Romantic artists. He studied under Jens Juel at the Copenhagen Academy (1799-1801), then moved to Dresden, where he knew Friedrich. In 1803 he settled in Hamburg.
Runge was of a mystical, pantheistic turn of mind and in his work he tried to express notions of the harmony of the universe through symbolism of colour, form, and numbers. To this end he planned a series of four paintings called The Times of the Day, designed to be seen in a special building and viewed to the accompaniment of music and poetry. He painted two versions
(Kunsthalle, Hamburg), but the others did not advance beyond drawings. Runge was also one of the best German portraitists of his period; several examples
are in Hamburg.
His style was rigid, sharp, and intense, at times almost naive. In 1810 he published Die Farbenkugel
(The Colour Sphere) after doing several years of research on colour, during which he corresponded with Goethe.