A Romantic Landscape Painter
Some believe Wanderer above the Sea of Fog_1818 to be a self portrait of Friedrich. The young figure standing in contemplation has the same fiery red hair as the artist.
Caspar David Friedrich is heralded as the greatest painter of the Romantic movement in Germany, and Europe’s first truly modern artist. His mysterious and melancholy landscapes, often peopled with lonely wanderers, are experiments in a radically subjective artistic perspective—one in which, as Freidrich wrote, the painter depicts not “what he sees before him, but what he sees within him.” This vulnerability of the individual when confronted with nature became one of the key tenets of the Romantic aesthetic.
Born in 1774 on the Baltic coast of Germany, Caspar David Friedrich was a man beset by tragedy from an early age. His mother Sophie, sisters Elisabeth and Maria, and brother Johan, all passed away before Friedrich was out of his teens. This sense of loss can be found in Friedrich’s best works.
Friedrich was also a true innovator who worked to his own convictions, free from the demands of the age, and transformed landscape painting from a backdrop of human drama to the focus where all exists within.
By the time Friedrich died in 1840 he was viewed as a morose eccentric, unable to sell his work and living off the charity of friends. Critics thought it too personal to understand, completely disregarding the fact that that was what made the work so original in the first place.
Chalk Cliffs on Rügen_1818
The Abbey in the Oakwood_1810
On the Sailing Boat_1819
Two Men Contemplating the Moon_1830
The Stages of Life_1835
Woman before the Setting Sun_1820