(Greifswald, 1774 - Dresden, 1840) German painter. Caspar David Friedrich is the most important landscape painter of German Romanticism. His paintings reveal a feeling of deep anguish in front of nature (Dolmen in the snow, 1807) and the astonished, almost painful awareness of the insignificance of man in front of its greatness (The traveler in front of the sea of fog, 1818). The meaning of his works is enriched by frequent references to German mythology; in the later paintings, the symbolic value becomes more evident in the choice of subjects and the simplification of forms. The artist prefers the landscape at certain times of the day, when it lends itself to more direct psychological correlations, as in works where small human figures appear isolated and almost lost (Two Men Contemplating the Moon, 1819). The work of the artists who worked around Friedrich (Georg Friedrich Kersting, Johan Christian Dahl) is interesting, although it never gave rise to a real school.
For his intense expression of the incommensurability of the universe in the face of human experience, Caspar David Friedrich is considered the leading figure in German landscape painting. He was influenced in his formative years by the severe and oppressive religious experience of his family, which he overcame through the philosophy and poetry of the Jena School, which he discovered under the guidance of G. L. Kosegarten.
The son of a sailor and born on the Baltic, Caspar David Friedrich painted the sea, snow-capped mountains, trees, sun and moon, subjects transfigured by the illumination of the artist's inner feeling when confronted with the enveloping grandeur of nature. "In his Moonrise over the Sea (1822, Staatliche Museen, Berlin), a man and two women stand on a rock and watch as the moon, symbol of divinity, dispels the gloom of a leaden purple sky with its orange glow, while two boats, symbol of life coming to an end, head for a dense, deep sea.
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