Caspar David Friedrich

Caspar David Friedrich
“Caspar David Friedrich…”, wrote sculptor Pierre-Jean David d’Angers, “created a new genre: the tragedy of landscape.”

Friedrich attempted to create Christian religious art without the traditional biblical scenes, instead using allegorical landscape to convey religious themes. In spite of its message of Christian redemption, his work is steeped in loneliness, isolation and desolation, perhaps because of tragedy in childhood. He witnessed his brother drowning in the Baltic after falling through thin ice while attempting to rescue him from the same fate, his mother died when he was 7 and two of his sisters died by the time he was 18.

His fascination with ruins of churches, graveyards, shipwrecks, isolated individuals among hauntingly portrayed landscapes and mist enshrouded planes populated by bare trees made him a favorite of the Surrealists, who saw him as a visionary painter.

Similarly, he had a great impact on Symbolist painters like Arnold Böcklin, whose own tragic life and fascination with death undoubtedly found resonance in Friedrich’s silent stones and “haunted, frightened trees” (to borrow a wonderfully appropriate line from Bob Dylan).

Friedrich started his career doing sepia ink and wash drawings of landscapes; he didn’t take up oil painting until he was 30. In the course of his career he became one of the masters of romantic landscape painting along with Turner and Constable. Toward the end of his life he was crippled by a stroke and, unable to paint in oil, he returned to sepia drawings.

Unfortunately, some of his work was lost, both to fire and to the Allied bombing of Dresden in World War II. We have only photographic records, mostly in black and white, of some of his masterworks, although some have been colorized by modern artists in an attempt to reconstruct their original appearance.


12 Replies to “Caspar David Friedrich”

  1. could someone please tell me what the piece at the top is called. i have done a pastiche but don’t know the name of what i have drawn. :P
    please get back to me on that

  2. Thank you very much or putting this site together. This site has the best links I’ve ever seen for Caspar David Friedrich’s art. I’m finishing up a paper on this artist and your site has helped me so much. (I will definitely tell my professor and other Friedrich fans about your site.)
    By the way, on one of the last links on the Artcyclopedia site, there is a link to a site called ARC – Art Renewal Center. Wow. They have a wonderful collection – just to let you know.
    Bye for now and thanks again — Theresa.

  3. Would love to establish a dialogue about this painting. I think its message is certainly spiritual, but not religious in the traditional sense, and definitely not christian. In fact, if anything it is antichristian. The ruins appear to be of a gothic cathederal, judging by the pointed arch. But the structure no longer appears to fulfill a formal religious use. It has been left by it’s onetime builders and users to decay. Nature appears to be in the process of filling the space once devoted to christian symbols and liturgies. Nature is the enduring, surviving force in this picture, together with the humble people in the farmhouse. Can someone help me further along with the meaning of this painting?


    If you are a passionate art lover and you have a thing for landscapes, you might want to check out this app entitled “Friedrich”.
    I found it at:-

    Most fairy tales begin in a setting and most classic novels also start with those fantastical settings. Maybe they have heard of Caspar David Friedrich so they decided to take inspiration from his work. Landscapes are absolutely important in art but no one quite captured the beauty of a magnificent landscape more passionately than with the genius hands of this German Romantic landscape painter. For someone who likes to get inspired by images and beautiful scenery, you can transform your iPad into a portal to a unique fantasia with the Friedrich app.

    This app is definitely something to explore and enjoy. Sometimes, paintings should be taken in face value. You look at it and move on. Friedrich’s drawings allow you to explore even beyond the corners of the painting because it is a spectacle of movement and of beautiful stories. It makes you want to explore those areas. This app is filled with several high resolution images so you can really look at his works in detail. It is a really good catalog that documents some of his works that you will really love to enjoy and explore. The app also has general information about the included artworks so you will not get lost with it. You can bookmark the pieces you like so you can go back to them easily.

    This App is absolutely precious and so if you like to be inspired, the Friedrich app, filled with glorious landscape images will offer you a lot of enjoyable viewing pleasure, one image after the other.

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