painting wanderer

Painting wanderer
Some meaning of this work is lost in the translation of its title. In German, the title is “Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer”. Wanderer in German can mean either “wanderer” or “hiker”. [11]
The painting is composed of various elements from the Elbe Sandstone Mountains in Saxony and Bohemia, sketched in the field but in accordance with his usual practice, rearranged by Friedrich himself in the studio for the painting. In the background to the right is the Zirkelstein. The mountain in the background to the left could be either the Rosenberg or the Kaltenberg. The group of rocks in front of it represent the Gamrig near Rathen. The rocks on which the traveler stands are a group on the Kaiserkrone. [5]

Painting wanderer
Wanderer above the Sea of Fog is true to the Romantic style and Friedrich’s style in particular, [6] being similar to other works such as Chalk Cliffs on Rügen and The Sea of Ice. Gorra’s (2004) analysis was that the message conveyed by the painting is one of Kantian self-reflection, expressed through the wanderer’s gazings into the murkiness of the sea of fog. [4] Dembo (2001) sympathised, asserting that Wanderer presents a metaphor for the unknown future. [7] Gaddis (2004) felt that the impression the wanderer’s position atop the precipice and before the twisted outlook leaves “is contradictory, suggesting at once mastery over a landscape and the insignificance of the individual within it”. [3]
In the foreground, a young man stands upon a rocky precipice with his back to the viewer. He is wrapped in a dark green overcoat, and grips a walking stick in his right hand. [3] His hair caught in a wind, the wanderer gazes out on a landscape covered in a thick sea of fog. In the middle ground, several other ridges, perhaps not unlike the ones the wanderer himself stands upon, jut out from the mass. [4] Through the wreaths of fog, forests of trees can be perceived atop these escarpments. In the far distance, faded mountains rise in the left, gently leveling off into lowland plains in the right. Beyond here, the pervading fog stretches out indefinitely, eventually commingling with the horizon and becoming indistinguishable from the cloud-filled sky. [3]

Painting wanderer
One can’t look at the painting without instinctively putting yourself in the man’s shoes and imagining how small he must feel before such a vast and immense display of environment. However, the man stands with confidence before all this, almost as if he has no regard for the hazard around him. This juxtaposition shows how small mankind is on a cosmic scale, while paying homage to man’s defiant instincts and tendency to try to shape the world for his own anyways.
I touched on the spacing a little bit earlier. The waves and fog blur the line of the horizon, so it’s hard to tell where the sea ends and the mountains begin; the fog also contributes to distorting the viewer’s depth perception. This gives the feeling that the sea so vast that it can’t be clearly observed, and also emphasizes the great vastness of nature compared to the minute blip of existence that is mankind.

Painting wanderer
The wanderer has complete freedom. He can wander out into the storm if he wishes, or walk away from it. He can shelter or take a risk. More significantly, perhaps, he can react in thought just as he wishes, too. He can allow himself to be cowered and afraid or, more likely, to be strong and courageous. Unlike his compatriots battening down the hatches or hiding indoors, he retains the ability to confront extremes. He is able to move as a free spirit in time and space and to choose his destiny.
It was a metaphor that was not wasted during the turbulent early years of the 19th century, at the close of the Napoleonic era when most of the continent was still recovering from decades of warfare and revolution and was also, many people suspected, approaching further decades of small-scale upheavals in the German states and even, once again for a third time, in France.

Painting wanderer
Some meaning of this work is lost in the translation of its title. In German, the title is “Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer”. Wanderer in German can mean either “wanderer” or “hiker”.
In the foreground, a young man stands upon a rocky precipice with his back to the viewer. He is wrapped in a dark green overcoat, and grips a walking stick in his right hand. His hair caught in a wind, the wanderer gazes out on a landscape covered in a thick sea of fog. In the middle ground, several other ridges, perhaps not unlike the ones the wanderer himself stands upon, jut out from the mass. Through the wreaths of fog, forests of trees can be perceived atop these escarpments. In the far distance, faded mountains rise in the left, gently leveling off into lowland plains in the east. Beyond here, the pervading fog stretches out indefinitely, eventually commingling with the horizon and becoming indistinguishable from the cloud-filled sky.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wanderer_above_the_Sea_of_Fog
http://medium.com/@gothgordongekko/art-critique-wanderer-above-the-sea-of-fog-ec4572fed347
http://robertstephenparry.com/endymion/wanderer-in-the-storm.html
http://www.wikiart.org/en/caspar-david-friedrich/the-wanderer-above-the-sea-of-fog
http://medium.com/@raphaeladowdinggreen/an-evaluation-of-the-interpretations-of-vincent-van-goghs-starry-night-cf1352edd589

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *