| Caspar David FriedrichCaspar David Friedrich was a German painter during the 1700s. Most of his painters were landscapes though a few do include people into the beautiful, wild nature of the German countryside. Some of his best known works are those landscapes which feature contemplative figures who, like the viewer, are looking out at the vast landscape, contemplating something that can only be guessed at. Friedrich’s paintings are anti-classical in style, going against the rival of the ideals of classical Greece and Rome, and instead are completed more in line with the works of the English painters John Constable and J.M.W. Turner.
|Caspar David Friedrich (September 5, 1774 – May 7, 1840) was a 19th-century German Romantic landscape painter, generally considered the most important of the movement. He is best known for his mid-period allegorical landscapes which typically feature contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees or Gothic ruins. His primary interest as an artist was the contemplation of nature, and his often symbolic and anti-classical work seeks to convey a subjective, emotional response to the natural world. Friedrich's work characteristically sets the human element in diminished perspective amid expansive landscapes, reducing the figures to a scale that, according to the art historian Christopher John Murray, directs "the viewer's gaze towards their metaphysical dimension".|
Friedrich was born in the Swedish Pomeranian town of Greifswald, where he began his studies in art as a youth. He studied in Copenhagen until 1798, before settling in Dresden. He came of age during a period when, across Europe, a growing disillusionment with materialistic society was giving rise to a new appreciation of spirituality. This shift in ideals was often expressed through a reevaluation of the natural world, as artists such as Friedrich, J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851) and John Constable (1776-1837) sought to depict nature as a "divine creation, to be set against the artifice of human civilization".
Friedrich’s work brought him renown early in his career, and contemporaries such as the French sculptor David d'Angers (1788–1856) spoke of him as a man who had discovered "the tragedy of landscape". Nevertheless, his work fell from favour during his later years, and he died in obscurity, and in the words of the art historian Philip Miller, "half mad". As Germany moved towards modernisation in the late 19th century, a new sense of urgency characterised its art, and Friedrich’s contemplative depictions of stillness came to be seen as the products of a bygone age. The early 20th century brought a renewed appreciation of his work, beginning in 1906 with an exhibition of thirty-two of his paintings and sculptures in Berlin. By the 1920s his paintings had been discovered by the Expressionists, and in the 1930s and early 1940s Surrealists and Existentialists frequently drew ideas from his work. The rise of Nazism in the early 1930s again saw a resurgence in Friedrich's popularity, but this was followed by a sharp decline as his paintings were, by association with the Nazi movement, misinterpreted as having a nationalistic aspect. It was not until the late 1970s that Friedrich regained his reputation as an icon of the German Romantic movement and a painter of international importance.
Early years and family
Caspar David Friedrich was born on September 5, 1774, in Greifswald, Swedish Pomerania, on the Baltic coast of Germany.The sixth of ten children, he was brought up in the strict Lutheran creed of his father Adolf Gottlieb Friedrich, a candle-maker and soap boiler. Records of the family's financial circumstances are contradictory; while some sources indicate the children were privately tutored, others record that they were raised in relative poverty. Caspar David was familiar with death from an early age. His mother, Sophie Dorothea Bechly, died in 1781 when he was just seven. A year later, his sister Elisabeth died, while a second sister, Maria, succumbed to typhus in 1791. Arguably the greatest tragedy of his childhood was the 1787 death of his brother Johann Christoffer: at the age of thirteen, Caspar David witnessed his younger brother fall through the ice of a frozen lake and drown. Some accounts suggest that Johann Christoffer perished while trying to rescue Caspar David, who was also in danger on the ice.
The chalk drawing Self-portrait, 1800, which portrays the artist at 26 was completed while he was studying at the Royal Academy in Copenhagen. Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Copenhagen Friedrich began his formal study of art in 1790 as a private student of artist Johann Gottfried Quistorp at the University of Greifswald. Quistorp took his students on outdoor drawing excursions; as a result, Friedrich was encouraged to sketch from life at an early age. Through Quistorp, Friedrich met and was subsequently influenced by the theologian Ludwig Gotthard Kosegarten, who taught that nature was a revelation of God. Quistorp introduced Friedrich to the work of the German 17th-century artist Adam Elsheimer, whose works often included religious subjects dominated by landscape, and nocturnal subjects. During this period he also studied literature and aesthetics with Swedish professor Thomas Thorild. Four years later Friedrich entered the prestigious Academy of Copenhagen, where he began his education by making copies of casts from antique sculptures before proceeding to drawing from life. Living in Copenhagen afforded the young painter access to the Royal Picture Gallery’s collection of 17th-century Dutch landscape painting. At the Academy he studied under teachers such as Christian August Lorentzen and the landscape painter Jens Juel. These artists were inspired by the Sturm und Drang movement and represented a midpoint between the dramatic intensity and expressive manner of the budding Romantic aesthetic and the waning neo-classical ideal. Mood was paramount, and influence was drawn from such sources as the Icelandic legend of Edda, the poems of Ossian and Norse mythology.
Friedrich settled permanently in Dresden in 1798. During this early period, he experimented in printmaking with etchings and designs for woodcuts which his furniture-maker brother cut. By 1804 he had produced 18 etchings and four woodcuts; they were apparently made in small numbers and only distributed to friends. Despite these forays into other media, he gravitated toward working primarily with ink, watercolour and sepias. With the exception of a few early pieces, such as Landscape with Temple in Ruins (1797), he did not work extensively with oils until his reputation was more established.Landscapes were his preferred subject, inspired by frequent trips, beginning in 1801, to the Baltic coast, Bohemia, the Riesen and the Harz Mountains. Mostly based on the landscapes of northern Germany, his paintings depict woods, hills, harbors, morning mists and other light effects based on a close observation of nature. These works were modeled on sketches and studies of scenic spots, such as the cliffs on Rügen, the surroundings of Dresden and the river Elbe. He executed his studies almost exclusively in pencil, even providing topographical information, yet the subtle atmospheric effects characteristic of Friedrich's mid-period paintings were rendered from memory. These effects took their strength from the depiction of light, and of the illumination of sun and moon on clouds and water: optical phenomena peculiar to the Baltic coast that had never before been painted with such an emphasis.
Move to Dresden
Friedrich established his reputation as an artist when he won a prize in 1805 at the Weimar competition organised by the writer, poet, and dramatist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. At the time, the Weimar competition tended to draw mediocre and now long-forgotten artists presenting derivative mixtures of neo-classical and pseudo-Greek styles. The poor quality of the entries began to prove damaging to Goethe's reputation, so when Friedrich entered two sepia drawings—Procession at Dawn and Fisher-Folk by the Sea—the poet responded enthusiastically and wrote, "We must praise the artist's resourcefulness in this picture fairly. The drawing is well done, the procession is ingenious and appropriate... his treatment combines a great deal of firmness, diligence and neatness... the ingenious watercolour... is also worthy of praise."
The Tetschen Altar, or The Cross in the Mountains (1807). 115 × 110.5 cm. Gemäldegalerie, Dresden. Friedrich's first major work, the piece breaks with the traditions of representing the crucifixion in altarpieces by depicting the scene as a landscape.Friedrich completed the first of his major paintings in 1807, at the age of 34. The Cross in the Mountains, today known as the Tetschen Altar (Gemäldegalerie, Dresden), is an altarpiece panel commissioned by the Countess of Thun for her family's chapel in Tetschen, Bohemia. It was to be one of the few commissions the artist received. The altar panel depicts the crucified Christ in profile at the top of a mountain, alone and surrounded by nature. The cross reaches the highest point in the pictorial plane but is presented from an oblique and a distant viewpoint, unusual for a crucifixion scene in Western art. Nature dominates the scene and for the first time in Christian art, an altarpiece showcases a landscape. According to the art historian Linda Siegel, the design of the altarpiece is the "logical climax of many earlier drawings of his which depicted a cross in nature's world."
The work was first exhibited on Christmas Day, 1808. Although it was generally coldly received, it was nevertheless Friedrich's first painting to receive wide publicity. The artist’s friends publicly defended the work, while art critic Basilius von Ramdohr published a lengthy article rejecting Friedrich's use of landscape in such a context; he wrote that it would be "a veritable presumption, if landscape painting were to sneak into the church and creep onto the altar". Ramdohr fundamentally challenged the concept that pure landscape painting could convey explicit meaning. Friedrich responded with a programme describing his intentions. In his 1809 commentary on the painting, he compared the rays of the evening sun to the light of the Holy Father. The sinking of the sun suggests that the era when God revealed himself directly to man has passed. This statement marked the only time Friedrich recorded a detailed interpretation of his own work.
Friedrich was elected a member of the Berlin Academy in 1810 following the purchase of two of his paintings by the Prussian Crown Prince. Yet in 1816, he sought to distance himself from Prussian authority, and that June applied for Saxon citizenship. The move was unexpected by his friends, as the Saxon government of the time was pro-French, while Friedrich's paintings to date were seen as generally patriotic and distinctly anti-French. Nevertheless, with the aid of his Dresden-based friend Graf Vitzthum von Eckstädt, Friedrich attained not only citizenship, but in 1818, a place in the Saxon Academy as a member with a yearly dividend of 150 thalers. Although he hoped to receive a full Professorship, it was never awarded him as, according to the German Library of Information, "it was felt that his painting was too personal, his point of view too individual to serve as a fruitful example to students." Politics too may have played a role in the stalling of his career: Friedrich’s decidedly Germanic choice of subject and costuming frequently clashed with the prevailing pro-French attitudes of the time.
Marriage and success
On January 21, 1818, Friedrich married Caroline Bommer, the twenty-five-year-old daughter of a dyer from Dresden. The couple had three children, with their first, Emma, arriving in 1820. Physiologist and painter Carl Gustav Carus notes in his biographical essays that marriage did not impact significantly on either Friedrich's life or personality, yet his canvasses from this period, including Chalk Cliffs on Rügen—painted after his honeymoon—display a new sense of levity, while his palette is brighter and less austere. Human figures appear with increasing frequency in the paintings of this period, which Siegel interprets as a reflection that "the importance of human life, particularly his family, now occupies his thoughts more and more, and his friends, his wife, and his townspeople appear as frequent subjects in his art."
Chalk Cliffs on Rügen, (1818). 90.5 × 71 cm. Museum Oskar Reinhart am Stadtgarten, Winterthur, Switzerland. Friedrich married Christiane Caroline Bommer in 1818, and on their honeymoon they visited relatives in Neubrandenburg and Greifswald. This painting celebrates the couple's union. Around this time, the artist found support from two sources in Russia. In 1820, Grand Duke Nikolai Pavlovich, at the behest of his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, visited Friedrich's studio and returned to Saint Petersburg with a number of his paintings. The exchange marked the beginning of a patronage that continued for many years. Not long thereafter, the poet Vasily Zhukovsky, tutor to Alexander II, met Friedrich in 1821 and found in him a kindred spirit. For decades Zhukovsky helped Friedrich both by purchasing his work himself and by recommending his art to the royal family; his assistance toward the end of Friedrich’s career proved invaluable to the ailing and impoverished artist. Zhukovsky remarked that his friend's paintings "please us by their precision, each of them awakening a memory in our mind."
Friedrich was acquainted with Philipp Otto Runge (1777–1810), another leading German painter of the Romantic period. He was also a friend of Georg Friedrich Kersting (1785–1847), who painted him at work in his unadorned studio, and of the Norwegian painter Johann Christian 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".
During this period Friedrich frequently sketched memorial monuments and sculptures for mausoleums, reflecting his obsession with death and the afterlife; he even created designs for some of the funerary art in Dresden's cemeteries. Some of these works were lost in the fire that destroyed Munich's Glass Palace (1931) and later in the 1945 bombing of Dresden.
Later life and death
Friedrich's reputation steadily declined over the final fifteen years of his life. As the ideals of early Romanticism passed from fashion, he came to be viewed as an eccentric and melancholy character, out of touch with the times. Gradually his patrons fell away. By 1820, he was living as a recluse and was described by friends as the "most solitary of the solitary". Towards the end of his life he lived in relative poverty and was increasingly dependent on the charity of friends. He became isolated and spent long periods of the day and night walking alone through woods and fields, often beginning his strolls before sunrise.
Georg Friedrich Kersting, Caspar David Friedrich in his Studio (1819). 51 × 40 cm. Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin. Kersting portrays an aged Friedrich holding a maulstick at his canvas.In June 1835, Friedrich suffered his first stroke, which left him with minor limb paralysis and greatly reduced his ability to paint. As a result he was unable to work in oil; instead he was limited to watercolour, sepia and reworking older compositions. 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". Symbols of death appeared in his other work from this period. Soon after his stroke, the Russian royal family purchased a number of his earlier works, and the proceeds allowed him to travel to Teplitz—in today's Czech Republic—to recover.
During the mid-1830s, Friedrich began a series of portraits and he returned to observing himself in nature. As the art historian William Vaughan has observed, however, "He can see himself as a man greatly changed. He is no longer the upright, supportive figure that appeared in Two Men Contemplating the Moon in 1819. He is old and stiff... he moves with a stoop". By 1838, he was capable only of working in a small format. He and his family were living in poverty and grew increasingly dependent for support on the charity of friends.
When Friedrich died in May 1840, his passing was little noticed within the artistic community. By then, his reputation and fame were waning. His artwork had certainly been acknowledged during his lifetime, but not widely. While the close study of landscape and an emphasis on the spiritual elements of nature were commonplace in contemporary art, his work was too original and personal to be well understood. By 1838, his work no longer sold or received attention from critics; the Romantic movement had been moving away from the early idealism that the artist had helped found. After his death, Carl Gustav Carus wrote a series of articles which paid tribute to Friedrich's transformation of the conventions of landscape painting. However, Carus' articles placed Friedrich firmly in his time, and did not place the artist within a continuing tradition.Only one of his paintings had been reproduced as a print, and that was produced in very few copies.
Caspar David Friedrich (Greifswald (Poméranie suédoise), 5 septembre 1774 - Dresde, 7 mai 1840), est le chef de file de la peinture romantique allemande du XIXe siècle. Biographie Les débuts Entre 1786 et 1788, les membres de sa famille décèdent un par un. En 1781, il perd sa mère et sa sœur Elisabeth. En 1787, c'est son frère Christopher qui décèd...|
Caspar David Friedrich (* 5. September 1774 in Greifswald &dagger 7. Mai 1840 in Dresden) war einer der bedeutendsten Maler und Zeichner der deutschen Früh-Romantik, die er zusammen mit Philipp Otto Runge wie kaum ein anderer Künstler beeinflusste. Seine Werke haben häufig Natur- und Landschaftsdarstellungen zum Gegenstand, die Natur besitzt dari...|
Caspar David Friedrich (Greifswald, 5 settembre 1774 - Dresda, 7 maggio 1840) è stato un pittore tedesco, esponente dell'arte romantica. « L'unica vera sorgente dell'arte è il nostro cuore, il linguaggio di un animo infallibilmente puro. Un'opera che non sia sgorgata da questa sorgente può essere soltanto artificio. Ogni autentica opera d'arte vien...|
Caspar David Friedrich (5 de septiembre de 1774 en Greifswald - 7 de mayo de 1840 en Dresde) fue el principal representante de la pintura romántica alemana, junto a Philipp Otto Runge, siendo la más destacada en el ámbito del paisajismo. Biografía Primeros años (1774-1800) Caspar David Friedrich era el sexto de los nueve hijos de Adolf Gottlieb Fri...||