This painting is dated 1822 and it is now kept at the Staatliche Museum in Berlin. "Solitary tree" is commissioned to Friedrich by art patron and collector Heinrich Wagener. An imposing oak tree is the protagonist of the scene: the solitary and powerful tree stands in the foreground, reminding us of a statue.
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This painting is dated 1822 and it is now kept at the Staatliche Museum in Berlin. The artist is Caspar David Friedrich, an exponent of romantic art considered one of the most important representatives of the "symbolic landscape": his painting focuses on a careful observation of German landscapes and above all the effect that light has on them. "Solitary tree" is commissioned to Friedrich by art patron and collector Heinrich Wagener. An imposing oak tree is the protagonist of the scene: the solitary and powerful tree stands in the foreground, reminding us of a statue. Above the tree, the clouds meet as if to form a dome. In the background a grassy landscape with groups of trees, ponds and villages lies at the feet of the mountains. The artist, transgressing all the classical laws of painting, imposes the great shrub in the foreground as the central axis, making him assume the role of mediator between heaven and earth, between transcendent and worldly. The oak is a symbol of the strength of life: it has survived strong winds and bad weather and, despite the tips of its branches have been cut off by the power of nature, it is still standing, in all its grandeur. The artist does not paint outdoors, but indoors in his study, relying on the memories of his observations and on imagination. Friedrich thinks that: "The painter should not paint only what he sees in front of himself, but also what he sees within himself. If he sees nothing within himself, then he should avoid painting what he sees in front of him". The artist is convinced that a valley, a sad cemetery, or simple images of trees can release a magnetism and a supernatural power that can leave open-mouthed. His paintings project a blinding, mysterious and metaphysical light on nature and the objects that surround it. Once romantic ideals have gone out of fashion, Friedrich begins to be considered as an eccentric and melancholy character, outside the ideals of time. In the last twenty years of his life his reputation slowly diminishes, and in 1820 he decides to continue his life in isolation, so much so that he is defined by his friends as "the most solitary of the solitaries".