exploring art and writing

Ode to a Painting: Wanderer above the Sea of Fog.

In Art, Painting on January 15, 2015 at 9:10 am
'Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer', Caspar David Friedrich, 1818

‘Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer’, Caspar David Friedrich, 1818

Painted in 1818, Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer (that’s Wanderer above the Sea of Fog to you and me) is perhaps Caspar David Friedrich’s most recognisable painting. Friedrich has been established as one of the leading German landscape painters to emerge from the Romantic period. His depiction of human figures within vast and looming panoramas has prompted all sorts of arty types to list him as an influence, including Max Ernst, René Magritte and Mark Rothko.

The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog encapsulates all the themes generally associated with Friedrich’s work: spirituality, nature, contemplation, the passage of time. His depiction of Germanic landscapes even drove the Nazi movement to appropriate his work for patriotic propaganda. Fortunately, the resulting stigma didn’t endure throughout the mid-twentieth century and Friedrich’s paintings are valued once again.

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog is a masterful depiction of nature and our philosophical contemplation of it – not to mention the rugged manliness of a lone ranger who goes hiking in what looks like his Sunday best. As far as landscape paintings go, it’s pretty damn sublime.


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