To begin with, Caspar David Friedrich is one of the leading figures that represent the German Romantic movement. Although he lived and worked in the nineteenth century, Friedrich is still remembered, and his creative legacy hasn’t been forgotten. The majority of researchers continue studying the artist’s challenging path to a great success of this prominent artist. Such a vivid interest and amusement that have arisen in the public mind may be caused by a great significance of this painter for the development of German Romanticism. Generally speaking, the notion of German Romanticism can be defined as an exciting artistic, musical, intellectual, and literary movement that reached its peak at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
As a result, Caspar David Friedrich managed to become a famous painter that had been recognized by the individuals from all corners of the world. The German artist had a unique understanding of art that helped Friedrich develop the unequaled characteristic style of his drawings. In turn, Friedrich believed that a truly gifted artist should paint not only the images gleaned by his physical eyes but also the pictures that arise in his mind. What is more, the German painter said that “if he sees nothing within him, then he should also refrain from a painting that which he sees before him; otherwise, his pictures will be like those folding screens behind which one expects to find only the sick or the dead.”
Biography of a Leading Figure of German Romanticism
Caspar David Friedrich, a prolific artist that represented German Romanticism movement, was born on September 5th in 1774. Being born in the city of Greifswald, currently known as the University and Hanseatic City of Greifswald, the young Friedrich did not enjoy a happy and careless childhood. The reason for his deprived childhood is his early familiarity with death, loss, and grief. Firstly, when Friedrich was seven years old, his mother Sophie Dorothea Bechly passed away. Having reached the age of thirteen, the teenager witnessed the death of his brother Johann Christopher who fell into the frozen lake and drowned. Some historians suppose that Johann Christopher lost his life while trying to shield Caspar David from danger. Apart from that, when Elizabeth died in 1782, the young painter experienced another great loss that made him suffer deep grief over the death of his sister. A number of researchers argue that all the personal tragedies experienced by the artist in the early years had a significant impact on his career in the field of art.
Since 1790, the young Friedrich had studied the disciplines of literature and aesthetics with the Swedish scholar Thomas Thorild at the University of Greifswald. At the beginning of the same year, Johann Gottfried Quistorp began to teach the fundamentals of art to the young Friedrich. Four years later, the gifted youngster managed to enter the renowned Academy of Copenhagen, which was regarded as the prestigious educational institution. Being a student of this much-celebrated academy, Caspar David had a great opportunity to study under the famous professor Christian August Lorentzen. In addition, Jens Juel, a famous landscape painter shared his knowledge and the gained precious experience with the young Friedrich.
At the age of 34, Caspar David Friedrich created one of his first major paintings. At present, we know this particular masterpiece as ‘The Cross in the Mountains” that was introduced to the society in 1808. Two years later, he was offered the opportunity to become a member of the Berlin Academy. In 1818, a prolific artist had married Caroline Boomer, a gentle and unassuming woman that delivered three children in the future. In 1835, Friedrich suffered a stroke at the age of 53. Respectively, the artist was not able to move the limbs as a result of a specific form of paralysis caused by a stroke.
A prominent German physician and natural philosopher Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert mentioned that Friedrich suffered from the regular mood swings. In one of his publications, this philosopher wrote that “Caspar David Friedrich was indeed a strange mixture of temperament, his moods ranging from the gravest seriousness to the gayest humor; but anyone who knew only this side of Friedrich’s personality, namely his deep melancholic seriousness, only knew half the man.” The prominent representative of German Romanticism movement passed away in 1840.
Friedrich’s Key Ideas in Painting
Needless to say, that Caspar David Friedrich had a unique style that distinguished him amount the other representatives of this particular art movement. At first glance, it may seem that the artist created the pictures that depicted simple landscapes and the beauty of nature. However, it should be mentioned that Friedrich managed to transform the ordinary and unremarkable forests, hills, and dales into the places that could be regarded as ‘the wonderlands’. The reason for this issue is the symbolic meaning given by the artist to every element depicted in his paintings. In this case, it can be concluded that the Romantic painter took significant efforts to connect with the potential viewers emotionally.
Apart from that, the key feature of Friedrich’s unique style was his tendency to infuse the drawings with a deep religious and spiritual significance. The majority of his drawings implies a certain visual minimalism created by means of subtle color palettes. What is more, the German artist embraced the romantic notion of ‘sublime’. Usually, this concept refers to the issue of infinite power represented by the painter. A detailed description of Friedrich’s artworks can be found in the following sections of this writing.
List of Famous Paintings Created by Caspar David Friedrich
As it was already mentioned, Friedrich put a great emphasis on the landscape painting due to his special attitude towards nature.
A list of the most famous his drawings includes:
– “Monastery Graveyard in the Snow (Cloister Cemetery in the Snow)” – (1817-1818);
– “The Wanderer Above the Mist” (1817-1818);
– “The Cross of the Mountains” (perhaps 1814);
– “The Monk by the Sea” (1809);
– “Giant Mountains Landscape with Rising Fog” (1809-1810);
– “The Stages of Life” (1835).
“The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog” and “The Abbey in the Oakwood”
The picture entitled “The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog” is a great example of Friedrich’s unique painting style. In this case, a wanderer depicted in this particular work of art conveys the meaning of the unknown future. Furthermore, the main idea of this painting has a strong relation to the concept of self-reflection developed by Immanuel Kant, a renowned German philosopher. Another masterpiece is “The Abbey in the Oakwood” that was created between 1809 and 1810. In the center of this drawing, Friedrich embodied the ruins of the Gothic church, and in the foreground, you may notice a newly dug grave. While creating this artwork, the artist drew a parallel between the destructive character of the Thirty Years War and the challenges faced by German soldiers as a result of this armed conflict. In fact, they were forced to use the churches of Greifswald as barracks. In turn, the newly dug grave may symbolize the fading hopes for Germany’s rebirth.
Pic. 2 – “The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog”
Pic. 3 – “The Abbey in the Oakwood”