This work by Caspar David Friedrich is dated 1818. The view in the painting is a real place: the mountains of Elbsandsteingebirge, in Bohemia, are...
Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) is one of the most important artists of the German romantic movement. Friedrich studied from 1794 to 1798 at the Academy of Copenhagen. Although he was educated by many painters, the school did not offer him a painting course.
He settled in Dresden and became a member of an artistic and literary group of friends which included, among others, the painter Philipp Otto Runge and the writers Ludwig Tieck and Novalis.
His sepia drawings, executed in his early and fresh style, received the approval of the poet J. W. von Goethe and half the prize from the Society of Works of Art of Weimar in 1805. His first oil work, The Cross in the Mountains, marked his mature style, seen as an overwhelming perception of stillness and loneliness, and was an attempt to replace the traditional symbolism of religious painting with one depicting natural elements. Other symbolic views, including the Sea of Ice, show how he cared about fatalism and his attitude to nature. In 1824 he was appointed professor in the Royal Dresden Art Schools, although not in the discipline he wanted. In 1835 he suffered a heart attack from which he never managed to recover. A second accident two years later brought him almost total paralysis. His reputation waned in the very last period of his life, as the Romantic movement was replaced by Realism.
Only in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries there has been a reappraisal of his work.