sea of fog

Sea of fog
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]
Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (German: Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer), also known as Wanderer above the Mist or Mountaineer in a Misty Landscape, [1] is an oil painting c. 1818 [2] by the German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich. It has been considered one of the masterpieces of Romanticism and one of its most representative works. It currently resides in the Kunsthalle Hamburg in Hamburg, Germany.

Sea of fog
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]
With the composition of the figure’s back placed towards the observer otherwise known as Rückenfigur, [8] it allows the observer to gain insight into Friedrich’s experience. [9] Friedrich himself states his ideas in regards to this, “The artist should paint not only what he has in front of him but also what he sees inside himself.” [10]

Sea of fog
Friedrich used landscape as a way of expressing profound experience, and was able to link this to his protestant background. Yet even in his early output, it was clear that his sensibility allowed for a greater array of moods and possibilities than just religious veneration. His later work explored the spiritual side of humankind on a more universal level: face to face with the mystery and loneliness of great landscapes, a pensive glorification of nature in all its sublime and frightening grandeur.
Like so many of paintings by the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich, the images focuses on a person gazing out over nature. We gaze out alongside him, a few paces behind perhaps, but still a companion in the moment. The terms for this device is Rückenfigur, or figure seen from behind, a compositional device by which the viewer can more readily identify with the scene.

Sea of fog
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.
Oil on canvas – Collection of Gemaldegalerie Neue Meister, Dresden, Germany

Sea of fog
Use of technique:
Once again Friedrich employs the Ruckenfugen technique in which he paints the figure with his back towards the viewer. This makes the figure something of a mystery to the viewer – they are unsure what he is thinking or his reaction to the landscape that they too are taking in.
As this man was most likely killed in 1813 or 1814, this painting may also serve as a patriotic tribute.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wanderer_above_the_Sea_of_Fog
http://medium.com/thinksheet/how-to-read-paintings-wanderer-above-the-sea-of-fog-by-caspar-david-friedrich-b8c8f0e20d45
http://m.theartstory.org/artist/friedrich-caspar-david/artworks/
http://www.artble.com/artists/caspar_david_friedrich/paintings/wanderer_above_the_sea_of_fog
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wanderer_above_the_Sea_of_Fog

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