Caspar David Friedrich was a German Romantic landscape painter born on September 5, 1774, in Greifswald, Pomerania, which was then part of Sweden. He was the sixth of ten children of Adolf Gottlieb Friedrich, a candle maker, and his wife, Sophie Dorothea Bechly. His family moved to Dresden when he was seven years old, where he received his early education and artistic training.
In 1798, Friedrich entered the Academy of Copenhagen, where he studied under Jens Juel and learned to paint in the Neoclassical style. He returned to Dresden in 1804 and became a member of the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. Friedrich married Caroline Bommer in 1818, and they had three children together.
Friedrich's paintings are known for their dramatic and contemplative landscapes, often featuring a lone figure contemplating the vastness of nature. He was influenced by the German Romantic movement, which emphasized emotion, imagination, and individualism. Other influences on his work include the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and the literature of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Friedrich's technique involved painting with thin layers of oil paint on canvas, which allowed him to create a luminous and atmospheric effect. He often used a muted color palette, emphasizing the natural beauty of the landscape over any particular subject.
Friedrich's work had a significant impact on the development of German Romanticism and influenced many later artists, including the Expressionists. His paintings continue to be highly regarded for their emotional power and technical skill.
Here are five of Friedrich's most important paintings:
"Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog" (1818) - This iconic painting shows a lone figure standing atop a rocky precipice, looking out over a vast, misty landscape. It has become one of the most famous images of Romanticism.
"The Abbey in the Oakwood" (1810) - This painting depicts an abandoned Gothic abbey in a desolate, wintry landscape. It is a haunting and melancholy work that reflects Friedrich's fascination with ruins and decay.
"The Cross in the Mountains" (1808) - This painting shows a simple wooden cross standing amidst a rocky mountain landscape, illuminated by a glowing sunset. It is a powerful expression of faith and the beauty of nature.
"The Sea of Ice" (1823-24) - This painting depicts a massive iceberg surrounded by a turbulent sea. It is a vivid and dramatic portrayal of the power and danger of nature.
"Moonrise over the Sea" (1822) - This painting shows a full moon rising over a tranquil sea, with a sailboat in the distance. It is a serene and meditative work that captures the sublime beauty of the natural world.