Casper David Friedrich succeeds in transferring to canvas the concepts of German Idealism and Romanticism. There was a sublime feeling that spreads throughout Europe during this period and resulted in Masterpieces of literature and art.
When a man is faced with a powerful natural phenomenon like storms, snow-covered peaks, and impenetrable fog, he experiences conflicting feelings of wonder and helplessness. A mystic spirit, a great universal soul pervades the world of nature and we must abandon ourselves in order to intuit and experience a part of this mystery.
Casper David Friedrich studied under J.G. Quistrop in Greifswald before going to the Copenhagen Academy between 1794-1798. On his return to Germany, he settled in Dresden, where he spent the rest of his life. His drawings in pen and ink were admired by Goethe and won him a Weimar Art Society prize in 1805. The staunch champion of an authentically “German” art, he countered bright light and classical ruins with the fascination of Germanic landscapes and a return to the Gothic, deliberately refusing to take the customary journey to Italy. A mysterious atmosphere and the contemplation of nature contribute to the great appeal of Frederich's landscapes, which, as the years passed, became increasingly rich in symbolic elements. The oil painting The Abbey in the Oakwood has become emblematic of German Romanticism, expressing a sense of desolation, but offering an alternative to the sun-drenched Mediterranean ruins of Neoclassical style. The bare trees look like gravestones surrounding the desolate abbey, while the extremely limited pallet of gray-brown tints conveys an impression of disconsolate sadness.
His first major commission came two years later in the form of the altarpiece for Count Thun's castle in Teschen, Silesia, entitled Crucifixion in Mountain Scenery. This set the tone for many later works, in which dramatic landscapes expressed moods, emotions, and atmosphere. Fredrich is attracted to the idea of infinity, in Sunset (Brothers) the spectators gaze traverses the painting until it becomes lost in the distant haze that swallows up the last rays of the sun and blurs the horizon.
Appointed a professor at the Dresden Academy in 1824, he influenced many of the young German and Scandinavian artists of the mid-nineteenth century and as a result, he ranks among the formative figures of the Romantic movement, also having influenced artists in the Hudson River School and Luminists. For many years his works were neglected, but in the early 1900s, they were rediscovered and revived, 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. His most “abstract” work Capuchin Friar by the Sea, is unusual in its almost total lack of forms and colors. A looming gray, cloudy sky hangs heavily over a thin strip of sand and the dark waves lapping at the water's edge. In this oppressive setting, the tiny figure of a monk alludes yet again to the relationship between divine mysticism and nature.
Today, his international reputation is well established. He is a national icon in his native Germany and highly regarded by art historians and art connoisseurs across the Western World.
Art Movement History: Romanticism.
Artists Influencing Caspar Frederich: JMW Turner, Albrecht Altdorfer.
He Traveled To Denmark.
Painters David Frederich Influenced: Johan Christian Dahl, Arnold Böcklin, Ivan Shishkin, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Ralph Blakelock, Max Ernst, Mark Rothko, Gerhard Richter, Gotthard Graubner, Anselm Kiefer.
The very interesting THEN & NOW photo section. See, the present day location that inspired the famous artist Casper David Friedrich. We travel the world to find the exact location where the artist set up his easel to paint. We photograph it as it appears today. Now, you can compare side by side photos of the original oil painting and the present-day location.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.