This 1981 book is concerned with the part which the visual arts played in Goethe's life and thought from his earliest years to the end of his visit to Italy. Among his multifarious preoccupations this interest in the visual arts was one of the most urgent and consistent. The extent of his preoccupation with the practice of the visual arts has been underestimated by scholars and this book is intended to do something to redress the balance. The book is best described as a kind of artistic biography, tracing chronologically the poet's development, as far as the visual arts are concerned, from his childhood in Frankfurt to the aesthetically decisive experience of Italy. The book should be of interest both to students of German literature and to students of the history of art. With this in mind the quotations from German have been translated into English throughout.