Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, by Friedrich

Wanderer above the sea of fog.

The painting I´ve chosen is Wanderer above the sea of fog, by Caspar David Friedrich (4, september 1774-7, May 1840), who was a German romantic painter, draughtsman and etcher.

Caspar David Friedrich

It was painted in 1818 in Germany. It´s an oil painting on canvas and its dimensions are 74.8 cm (width) x 94.8 cm (high). Now this painting is in the Kunsthalle of Hamburg in Germany.

Wonderer above the sea of fog

This painting represents a traveler, who is identified with Friedrich. He is standing on the top of a high mountain. He is looking at a sea of clouds which are below him. The traveler is represented with his back to the viewer. He is wearing a black suit. He is stepping forward and leaning on a cane. We can see the mountains’ peaks out of the fog, while a big mountain occupies the background. On the top of the mountains in the background, the sky almost occupies most of the painting. It is a landscape of Switzerland or Saxony.

This painting isn´t different from other Friedrich’s paintings, because he felt really attracted by the nature and isolated and wonderful places.

He used a cold chromatic range: black in the central figure, dark brown in the rocks, grey and white in the fog and sky. The warm colors only appear in the foreground. In this way with warm colors in the foreground and with the predominance of cold colors in the background, he gets a chromatic perspective. The foreground is dark, while the background is bright, clear and blurred.

This painting was drawn with the characteristics of romanticism and the landscape as well. He was attracted by the idea to see and experiment with the nature in isolated and wonderful places on the edge of the sea or lakes, on the top of the mountains or waterfalls. In Friedrich’s career, he felt attraction for the idea that personal expression must be linked to physical and spiritual isolation. He considered that this was an evidence of incredible magnitudes.

As in other Friedrich’s paintings, the Wanderer above the Sea of Fog is not a normal landscape: it has a symbolic content.

The reason why the traveler is showing his back and we can´t see his face was an object of analysis and interpretations. In this way the painter allows us to distract the attention from the landscape. This posture (one person turned back looking to a romantic landscape) was repeated in other Friedrich’s paintings, like Chalk Cliffs on Rügen, where we can recognize Friedrich. He adopted an important role in his oil paintings from 1807. The back figures have an important identity function: normally they are placed in such way to cover vanishing point. The viewers take the place of the figure and admire the natural phenomenon. The figures don’t represent specific individuals. The nature is used for the projection of the observer’s feelings. The fact that the traveler has been placed in the center of the painting indicates a dominant position. But as he has a cane, he also shows an unstable position.

The traveler is alone. There aren´t any other humans. We can perceive the isolation and solitude of the individual. 

The traveler can symbolize the human being that conceives an eternal life. The traveler’s posture with an advanced leg indicates that he dominates the life of this world and he looks to the beyond with admiration, waiting for the eternal life. The rocks over which the traveler is standing and the background symbolize the faith of the human being. The mountains of the background represent the future eternal life in paradise. We may deduce that the sea of clouds is an allusion to divinity: the human being is between the nature and God..

Friedrich is considered to be a romantic painter. He painted oil paintings on canvas mainly. In some occasions he painted altarpieces and worked with gold. Initially he also made drawings with fountain pen, Indian ink and water colors. From 1800 he started to use sepia color ink.

He belonged to the first generation of free artists who didn’t paint on request. They created paintings to be shown in free galleries 

Some examples with the same characteristics:
Chalk Cliffs on Rügen was painted in 1818. He portrays a man standing and a woman sitting, looking at the landscape, while another man is kneeling above a cliff which leads to an infinite ocean.

Chalk Cliffs on Rügen

The sea of Ice represents a big mass of remains of a shipwreck and ice sheets in the foreground and in the middleground a pile of similar ruins, dirtying an ice landscape.

The painter’s style gets a mystery and romantic feeling.

The sea of Ice

Other paintings by Caspar David Friedrich:

Women at a window: 1822, oil on cancavas, Height 44cm width 37 cm.

Woman at a window

Abbey among Oak trees: between 1890 and 1810. Height 100.4 cm and Width 171 cm 

Abbey among Oak tres

Landscape with Grave, Coffin and Owl: pencil and sepia drawing. July 1836.

Landscape with Grave, Coffin and Owl

Homme et femme contemplat la lune (1830-1835), oil on cancavas. 34x44 cm

Homme et femme contemplant la lune

More examples in

Why I like this painting:

I like this painting because it inspires me tranquility and serenity. I like the landscape so much. I think it is very beautiful and original. And also I like this painting because I think it is a bit unusual, I don´t know why, but I like it. I like the position of the wanderer too, because it’s mysterious. I’ve liked to do the project of this painting. 



Also, the blog!

The photos:

1 comment:

Paqui Pérez Fons said...

Hello Gema,

You should use more sources, apart from Wikipedia. Anyway, your mark is 9. See you!