PAI 001 Paintings Caspar David Friedrich 1774–1840
Caspar David Friedrich 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.
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".
Friedrich wished to paint not just the landscape, but the emotional response which it provokes. Through this, the spectator views an outward representation of an inward sensation. The most radical achievement of Friedrich was his new approach to pure landscape imagery: the landscape became the protagonist, not the human event within it. The human figure is often silhouetted before night skies or morning mists, and barren trees and Gothic or megalithic ruins are common features in his work. When reflecting on the early tragedy of Friedrich’s family life, it comes as no surprise that gloom and melancholy pervade his work.
Landschaft im Charakter des
böhmischen Mittelgebirges, 1830–35
Der Watzmann, 1824/25
19. Jahrhundert, 1790
Landschaft im Riesengebirge, 1810
Nordische See im Mondlicht, 1823