why were caspar david friedrich’s paintings popular in nineteenth-century germany
Although he was supported by patrons through most of his career, in his later life the thrill of the Romantic Movement faded, and Friedrich was somewhat forgotten. It wasn’t until the 20th century, that Friedrich’s work was re-discovered by the Norwegian art historian, Andreas Aubert, who brought his works to light for modern scholarship. Edvard Munch, Max Ernst, and other surrealists came to view Friedrich’s works as a source of inspiration. Even today, contemporary artists look to the mystical landscapes as a guiding example for creativity and humanity.
September 05, 2018
Friedrich was acquainted with Philipp Otto Runge, another leading German painter of the Romantic period. He was also a friend of Georg Friedrich Kersting, and painted him at work in his unadorned studio, and of the Norwegian painter Johan Christian Clausen Dahl (1788–1857). Dahl was close to Friedrich during the artist’s final years, and he expressed dismay that to the art-buying public, Friedrich’s pictures were only “curiosities”.  While the poet Zhukovsky appreciated Friedrich’s psychological themes, Dahl praised the descriptive quality of Friedrich’s landscapes, commenting that “artists and connoisseurs saw in Friedrich’s art only a kind of mystic, because they themselves were only looking out for the mystic. They did not see Friedrich’s faithful and conscientious study of nature in everything he represented”. 
Although his vision remained strong, he had lost the full strength of his hand. Yet he was able to produce a final ‘black painting’, Seashore by Moonlight (1835–36), described by Vaughan as the “darkest of all his shorelines, in which richness of tonality compensates for the lack of his former finesse”. 
Caspar David Friedrich emerged as a painter at the time Europe was rapidly shifting in social and political sense; a time when a growing disappointment with materialistic society was transforming to a new appreciation of spirituality. Therefore, the natural world was perceived and depicted by the artists as “a divine creation, to be set against the artifice of human civilization.”
Chalk Cliffs on Rügen was produced by Friedrich probably the same year he got married to Christiane Caroline Bommer, who was about 20 years younger. During their honeymoon in the summer of 1818, the couple visited relatives in Neubrandenburg and Greifswald and they visited a nearby island of Rügen.
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”.
Caspar David Friedrich (September 5, 1774 – May 7, 1840) was a landscape painter of the nineteenth-century German Romantic movement, of which he is now considered the most important painter. A painter and draughtsman, Friedrich is best known for his later allegorical landscapes, which feature contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees, and Gothic ruins. His primary interest as an artist was the contemplation of nature, and his often symbolic and anti-classical work seeks to convey the spiritual experiences of life.
“A mountain of ice and the debris of a ship that has been crushed by it. It is a great tragedy, not a single survivor.” —David d’Angers, nineteenth-century French sculptor about The Sea of Ice
Friedrich was born in Greifswald in northeastern Germany. He studied at the Academy in Copenhagen (1794-98), and subsequently settled in Dresden, often traveling to other parts of Germany. Friedrich’s landscapes are based entirely on those of northern Germany and are beautiful renderings of trees, hills, harbors, morning mists, and other light effects based on a close observation of nature.