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Alte Nationalgalerie

Caspar David Friedrich’s Infinite Landscapes

Painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840) was the foremost artist of the German romantic movement. His mysterious, atmospheric landscapes & seascapes, which inspired awe through evocations of nature’s vastness, did much to establish the idea of the sublime — an artistic effect producing the strongest emotion the mind is capable of feeling — as a central concern of romanticism. By the time of Friedrich’s death the romantic movement had given way to realism, and his work faded into obscurity. It was revived in 1906, when the Centenary Exhibition of German Art lauded Friedrich as a painter with an extraordinary proficiency for capturing light & atmosphere, and as a pioneer of modern art.

Caspar David Friedrich: The Watzmann
The Watzmann (c. 1824)

Friedrich’s rediscovery, now 118 years ago, is the central theme of the exhibition Caspar David Friedrich — Infinite Landscapes, which is on display at the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin until 4 August. The exhibition gives an overview of his life & work and explores his process & technique, focusing on his precise study of nature and romantic imagination. In Friedrich’s landscapes of longing, with their wide skies and distant horizons, the infinity of space & time becomes perceptible. His timeless images stimulate thought & feeling, which makes them so fascinating to this day. The exhibition shows some 60 paintings and 50 drawings, including The Sea of Ice, Chalk Cliffs on Rügen, The Watzmann, and pairs such as Monk by the Sea and Abbey among Oak Trees, and Moonrise over the Sea and Solitary Tree.

Reader comments


The passion caused by the great and sublime in nature is astonishment, and astonishment is that state of the soul in which all its motions are suspended. In this case the mind is so entirely filled with its object that it cannot entertain any other, nor by consequence reason on that object which employs it. Hence arises the great power of the sublime, that far from being produced by them, it anticipates our reasonings, and hurries us on by an irresistible force.


I will definitely come back to this later.


Infinite Landscapes is the second of three exhibitions marking the 250th anniversary of Caspar David Friedrich’s birth. The first one, at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, home to Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, his best-known work, ended on 1 April. The third exhibition, Where it all started, i.e. in Dresden, is to open on 28 August at the Albertinum and the Royal Palace, and will explore the artist as a painter and a drawer respectively.