the wanderer over the sea of fog

The wanderer over the sea of fog
Media related to Der Wanderer ├╝ber dem Nebelmeer at Wikimedia Commons
With the composition of the figure’s back placed towards the observer otherwise known as R├╝ckenfigur, [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]

The wanderer over the 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]
Robert Macfarlane discusses the painting in terms of its significant influence on how mountain climbing has been viewed in the Western world since the Romantic era, calling it the “archetypical image of the mountain-climbing visionary”, and describing its power in representing the concept that standing on mountain tops is something to be admired, an idea which barely existed in earlier centuries. [12]

The wanderer over the sea of fog
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.
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.

The wanderer over the sea of fog
By separating the figure and the viewer, the latter focuses more on the beauty of the surroundings rather than the man’s role in nature.
Caspar David Friedrich

The wanderer over the sea of fog
A departure from his usual landscape formula, with its implied narrative and more traditional use of symbolism, this work creates a connection between the painting’s viewer and the scene. We are a passenger on the ship, a witness to the intrepid couple on their journey. This painting was made one year after Friedrich’s marriage to Caroline Bommer and shows his transition from lone figures to the occasional depiction of a pair. Often, these female figures were based on his wife’s image; in this painting the couple depicted are believed to be portraits of the artist and his wife. Rich in symbolism, their joined hands reference their new, happy union and their presence on a moving ship a metaphor for the new life they are embarking on.
Oil on canvas – Collection of Kunsthalle Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wanderer_above_the_Sea_of_Fog
http://www.wikiart.org/en/caspar-david-friedrich/the-wanderer-above-the-sea-of-fog
http://www.artble.com/artists/caspar_david_friedrich/paintings/wanderer_above_the_sea_of_fog
http://m.theartstory.org/artist/friedrich-caspar-david/artworks/
http://puzzlefactory.pl/en/puzzle/play/art/193982-wanderer-by-the-sea-of-fog

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