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Artists Caspar David Friedrich
Caspar David Friedrich Photo

Caspar David Friedrich

German Painter

Movement: Romanticism

Born: September 5, 1774 - Greifswald, Swedish Pomerania (present day Germany)

Died: May 7, 1840 - Dresden, Germany

Caspar David Friedrich Timeline

Quotes

"Every true work of art must express a distinct feeling."
Caspar David Friedrich
"The pure, frank sentiments we hold in our hearts are the only truthful sources of art."
Caspar David Friedrich
"A painting which does not take its inspiration from the heart is nothing more than futile juggling."
Caspar David Friedrich
"I have no intention of working against the dictates of the day, of swimming against the current, when such dictates are purely a matter of fashion. Rather I dwell in the hope that time shall annihilate its own offspring, and that it shall do so quickly. But much less am I so weak as to do obeisance to the demands of the age when they go against my convictions. I spin about me my chrysalis, and let others do the same; and I leave it to time to decide what shall come of it whether a brilliant butterfly or a maggot."
Caspar David Friedrich
"I have to surrender myself to what encircles me, I have to merge with my clouds and rocks in order to be what I am. I need solitude in order to communicate with nature."
Caspar David Friedrich
"Art must issue from man's interior, and depends on his moral and religious worth."
Caspar David Friedrich
"It may be a great honour to have a large public on one's side. But it is surely a much greater honour to have a small, select public on one's side."
Caspar David Friedrich
"The painter should not paint merely what he sees in front of him, but also what he sees within himself. If he sees nothing within, he should not paint what he sees before him."
Caspar David Friedrich
"Close your bodily eye, that you may see your picture first with the eye of the spirit. Then bring to light what you have seen in the darkness, that its effect may work back, from without to within."
Caspar David Friedrich
"I have to stay alone in order to fully contemplate and feel nature."
Caspar David Friedrich

"All authentic art is conceived at a sacred moment and nourished in a blessed hour; an inner impulse creates it, often without the artist being aware of it."

Caspar David Friedrich Signature

Synopsis

Seeking to capture an experience of the infinite, Caspar David Friedrich composed works that directly confronted the viewer with the awesome. Friedrich took the genre of landscape painting, traditionally considered unimportant, and infused it with deep religious and spiritual significance. Believing that the majesty of the natural world could only reflect the magnificence of God, he featured sunlight vistas and foggy expanses to convey the beautiful power of the divine.

Key Ideas

Friedrich's moody landscapes, which often thrust the viewer into the wilds of nature, created an emotional connection with the viewer rather than a more literal interaction with the scene. This integration of spiritual significance with landscape painting made him a popular success.
While conservative contemporaries challenged Friedrich's allegorical and religious landscapes, the artist maintained that his work never simply replicated a view, but rather provided opportunity to contemplate God's presence in the world. Using dramatic perspectives and misty, untamed expanses that dwarfed any figures, Friedrich encouraged the viewer to accept the awesome power of nature as evidence of a divine spirit.
Dismissing the picturesque traditions of landscape painting, Friedrich embraced the Romantic notion of the sublime. Through his sensitive depictions of mist, fog, darkness, and light, the artist conveyed the infinite power and timelessness of the natural realm; the viewer is physically reminded of his frailty and insignificance.
Friedrich's subtle color palette and emphasis on light often created an overwhelming sense of emptiness that would influence Modern Art. The visual minimalism of his paintings was so unusual that his audiences were often confused; reportedly, one group of art enthusiasts who visited his studio viewed a work upside down on the easel, believing the clouds were waves and the water was the sky. Modernists would learn from his use of subdued color and the simplicity of his compositions that still conveyed profound ideas.

Biography

Caspar David Friedrich Photo

Childhood and Education

The sixth of ten children, Caspar David Friedrich was born into a strict Lutheran family. He became familiar with tragedy at an early age, losing his mother when he was seven, and two sisters to childhood illnesses. Perhaps the most impactful loss was the death of his brother, Johann, who drowned while trying to rescue the then thirteen-year-old artist when he fell through the ice.

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Caspar David Friedrich Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Caspar David Friedrich
Interactive chart with Caspar David Friedrich's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Carl Gustav Carus
Gerhard von Kügelgen
Jens Juel
Johann Gottfried Quistorp
Philipp Otto Runge

Personal Contacts

Johann Wolfgang von GoetheJohann Wolfgang von Goethe
Ernest Chesneau
Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock
Georg Reimer

Movements

RomanticismRomanticism

Influences on Artist
Caspar David Friedrich
Caspar David Friedrich
Years Worked: 1798 - 1840
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Carl Gustav Carus
Fredric Edwin Church
Gustave CourbetGustave Courbet
Anselm KieferAnselm Kiefer
Gerhard von Kügelgen

Personal Contacts

Johann Wolfgang von GoetheJohann Wolfgang von Goethe
Clemens Brentano
Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock
Theodor Körner
Georg Reimer

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Color Field PaintingColor Field Painting
German RomanticismGerman Romanticism
The Hudson River SchoolThe Hudson River School
ExpressionismExpressionism

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Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Sarah Archino

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Sarah Archino
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