why do i love 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 right. Beyond here, the pervading fog stretches out indefinitely, eventually commingling with the horizon and becoming indistinguishable from the cloud-filled sky. 
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”. 
Caspar David Friedrich’s On the Sailing Boat features the bow of a ship heading towards the horizon. Two figures, a man in a blue suit and hat and a woman in a pink dress with white lace collar, hold hands while looking at what lays ahead. The right side of the canvas is consumed by a closely focused depiction of the sail and the boat’s mast. In the distance, the viewer can discern the faint outline of buildings, silhouetted in mist. The largest expanse of the canvas is occupied by a glowing yellow sky.
The symbolism of this painting has been interpreted on political, autobiographical, and spiritual levels. Certainly, this scene of devastation suggests a deeper meaning; the work is not associated with any historical or literary source. Some have viewed it politically as a statement against the German government. According to the scholar Norbert Wolf, “The sailing ship being slowly crushed by pack of ice in a polar landscape otherwise devoid of signs of human life may be understood as a pathos-laden metaphor for a catastrophe on an epochal scale, whereby visually coded references to ruin and nevertheless to hope, to destruction and to regeneration, combine into a symbolic protest against the oppressive ‘political winter’ gripping Germany under Metternich.”
What is fascinating about this painting is that it can be approached in the opposite direction — the pessimistic reading — and still make sense: a man racked with doubt looks yearningly out over a vast mountain range. There is a cauldron of swirling mist beneath his feet. He is all alone in this place, in whose limitless dimensions he recognises, by contrast, his own uncertain existence.
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.
Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer), also known as Wanderer above the Mist or Mountaineer in a Misty Landscape, is an oil painting c. 1818 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.
Portrait of Caspar David Friedrich, Gerhard von Kügelgen c. 1810–20