caspar david freidrich
Caspar David Friedrich (September 5, 1774 – May 7, 1840) was a landscape painter of the nineteenth-century German Romantic movement, of which he is now considered the most important painter. A painter and draughtsman, Friedrich is best known for his later allegorical landscapes, which feature contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees, and Gothic ruins. His primary interest as an artist was the contemplation of nature, and his often symbolic and anti-classical work seeks to convey the spiritual experiences of life.
Friedrich was born in Greifswald in northern Germany in 1774. He studied in Copenhagen until 1798 before settling in Dresden. He came of age during a period when, across Europe, a growing disillusionment with an over-materialistic society led to a new appreciation for spiritualism. This was often expressed through a reevaluation of the natural world, as artists such as Friedrich, J. M. W. Turner and John Constable sought to depict nature as a “divine creation, to be set against the artifice of human civilization”.
Featured image: Caspar David Friedrich – Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, circa 1817, detail. Oil on canvas. Height: 98 cm (38.5″); Width: 74 cm (29.1″). Collection Kunsthalle Hamburg. All images via Creative Commons.
Cross in the Mountains, also known as the Tetschen Altar, was made ten years before Wanderer above the Sea of Fog; it is important in historical terms since Friedrich broke the conventions of landscape genre by incorporating Christian iconography. The religious painting had the prime spot in the hierarchy of genres, meaning that the artist’s intervention was unprecedented at the time and caused a running debate among the proponents of the new German Romanticism and Neoclassicism.
Today, his international reputation is well established. He is a national icon in his native Germany, and highly regarded by art historians and art connoisseurs across the Western World. He is generally viewed as a figure of great psychological complexity, and according to Vaughan, “a believer who struggled with doubt, a celebrator of beauty haunted by darkness. In the end, he transcends interpretation, reaching across cultures through the compelling appeal of his imagery. He has truly emerged as a butterfly—hopefully one that will never again disappear from our sight”. 
Following the purchase of two of his paintings by the Prussian Crown Prince, Friedrich was elected a member of the Berlin Academy in 1810.  Yet in 1816, he sought to distance himself from Prussian authority and applied that June for Saxon citizenship. The move was not expected; the Saxon government was pro-French, while Friedrich’s paintings were seen as generally patriotic and distinctly anti-French. Nevertheless, with the aid of his Dresden-based friend Graf Vitzthum von Eckstädt, Friedrich attained citizenship, and in 1818, membership in the Saxon Academy with a yearly dividend of 150 thalers.  Although he had hoped to receive a full professorship, it was never awarded him as, according to the German Library of Information, “it was felt that his painting was too personal, his point of view too individual to serve as a fruitful example to students.”  Politics too may have played a role in stalling his career: Friedrich’s decidedly Germanic subjects and costuming frequently clashed with the era’s prevailing pro-French attitudes. 
Friedrich was born in the Pomeranian town of Greifswald at the Baltic Sea, where he began his studies in art as a young man. He studied in Copenhagen until 1798, before settling in Dresden. He came of age during a period when, across Europe, a growing disillusionment with materialistic society was giving rise to a new appreciation of spirituality. This shift in ideals was often expressed through a reevaluation of the natural world, as artists such as Friedrich, J. M. W. Turner and John Constable sought to depict nature as a “divine creation, to be set against the artifice of human civilization”.
Caspar David Friedrich was born on 5 September 1774, in Greifswald, Swedish Pomerania, on the Baltic coast of Germany. The sixth of ten children, he was brought up in the strict Lutheran creed of his father Adolf Gottlieb Friedrich, a candle-maker and soap boiler. Records of the family’s financial circumstances are contradictory; while some sources indicate the children were privately tutored, others record that they were raised in relative poverty. Caspar David was familiar with death from an early age. His mother, Sophie Dorothea Bechly, died in 1781 when he was just seven. A year later, his sister Elisabeth died, while a second sister, Maria, succumbed to typhus in 1791. Arguably the greatest tragedy of his childhood happened in 1787 when his brother Johann Christoffer died: at the age of thirteen, Caspar David witnessed his younger brother fall through the ice of a frozen lake, and drown. Some accounts suggest that Johann Christoffer perished while trying to rescue Caspar David, who was also in danger on the ice.
Caspar David Friedrich, Woman at a Window, 1822, National Gallery, Berlin, Germany
Here we present 10 most famous works of Caspar David Friedrich: