Caspar David Friedrich

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Caspar David Friedrich was born on September 5, 1774. He was of a German descent and was primarily known as a Romantic landscape painter. He was regarded as one of the most cardinal German painters of his time. Primarily known for depicting sceneries and landscapes with night skies and morning skies, he was clearly drawn to nature. His work is known to have left the most evocative of effects on his audience. With respect to this quality, the art historian Christopher John Murray is quoted to have said that “the viewer’s gaze towards their metaphysical dimension”.

Friedrich spent most of his early childhood in the town of Greifswald at the Baltic Sea. This is where he began his studies in art. Till 1798, he studied in Copenhagen after which he shifted to Dresden. David saw Europe at a time when the growing dismay over materialism had driven people towards spirituality. The transition of ideals was what was explicitly expressed in the work of a number of artists of his time. J. M. W. Turner for example in 1775 attempted to portray nature as a “divine creation, to be set against the artifice of human civilization”.

Friedrich’s work was rather quick to attract attention and fame. In fact the likes of David d’Angers referred to him as a man who had found “the tragedy of landscape”.

As Germany shifted towards more modernistic mindsets, a refreshing quality of eagerness was seen in his work. Consequently, his work consisting of portrayals of stillness became days of the past. It only happened in early 20th century that his work received a new wave of appreciation. In fact by 1920s, renowned expressionists had begun to relate to his work followed by leading Surrealists and Existentialists in the 1940s.

The rise of Nazism witnessed a new wave of Friedrich’s popularity. Amusingly, this was quickly followed by an immediate disapproval since most of his paintings were mistaken to promote sentiments such as patriotism. It happened in the 1790s that Friedrich was able to revive his image as an idol of the German Romantic movement. In fact, only few could deny his significance as a painter of international importance.

On 21 January 1818, Friedrich eloped with Caroline Bommer. She was twenty five years old at the time and was daughter of a dyer. She was from Dresden. The duo had three children. Their first child was named Emma and she was born in 1820. Physiologist and painter Carl Gustav Carus indicates that though matrimony did little to impact his work, Friedrich’s work did demonstrate a fresh aura of levity post his marriage. His work began to revolve largely around humans and those that surrounded him in his town.

Caspar David Friedrich’s popularity witnessed a significant decline in the final years of his life. As the concept of romanticism withered away, so did the emotional appeal of his work. Gradually he became to be looked as someone odd and strange. He began to be regarded as flagrantly behind his times. His supporters left him and by 1820, he had completely become a recluse. Towards the denouement of his life, he had lived in considerable poverty. He was seen spending most of day in isolation, taking silent strolls on the roads.

Also his health began to deteriorate. Though his vision was intact, his hand no longer held the finesse that it had once done.

Consequently he died on May 7, 1840 and was buried in a cemetery in Dresden.

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