caspar david friedrich and similar artwork
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”.
(September 5, 1774 – May 7, 1840)
Oil on canvas – Collection of Nationalgalerie, Stattliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
A study in subtle colors, rendered in soft shades of browns, yellows, and white, this painting depicts the crumbling remains of a Gothic abbey set amongst a field of barren leafless trees. The outlines of cross markers and tombstones are scattered around the remaining wall of the abbey entrance with its tall thin window. The bare outline of a few monks can be seen about to pass through what remains of the church’s entrance, perhaps making a pilgrimage to mourn the dead.
Created on 09/2019
Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) is one of the most important representatives of German early Romanticism. His mysterious, atmospheric landscapes express human helplessness against the forces of nature, and helped to establish the idea of the sublime as Romanticism’s central concern. Born in Greifswald in Swedish Pomerania and raised in a strictly Protestant, petty-bourgeois family, Frederick first received instruction in architectural design before beginning his studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen, where painting was not taught. He settled in Dresden, earned his living primarily through sepia drawings and frequently embarked on long journeys to build up a motivational canon of landscapes and buildings he encountered.
Did somebody say “Romanticism”? The Wanderer presents a metaphor for the unknown future. It’s a great monument for human individuality. Some believe that the Wanderer is a self portrait of Friedrich. Though Friedrich painted this scene in his studio, he sketched it at the place of inspiration, Elbsandsteingebirge, in Saxony and Bohemia.
A Walk at Dusk was among a small group of works Friedrich completed before he suffered a debilitating stroke in 1835. The painting embodies both the melancholy he experienced during this period and the consolation he found in the Christian faith.
During this period Friedrich frequently sketched memorial monuments and sculptures for mausoleums, reflecting his obsession with death and the afterlife; he even created designs for some of the funerary art in Dresden’s cemeteries. Some of these works were lost in the fire that destroyed Munich’s Glass Palace (1931) and later in the 1945 bombing of Dresden.
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”.