Caspar David Friedrich
(5 September 1774 – 7 May 1840) was a 19th-century German Romantic landscape
painter, generally considered the most important German artist of his generation. 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 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 paintings characteristically set a human presence 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 town of Greifswald
on the Baltic Sea
in what was at the time Swedish Pomerania
. 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
and John Constable
sought to depict nature as a "divine creation, to be set against the artifice of human civilization". (Full article...