jueves, 30 de junio de 2016


Christa Zaat

Caspar David Friedrich (German painter) 1774 - 1840
Winterlandschaft mit Kirche (Winter Landscape), 1811
oil on canvas
32.5 x 45 cm. 
Museum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Dortmund

In a letter of 22 June 1811, written by Friederike Volkmann in Dresden to the psychologist Dr Christian August Heinroth in Leipzig, this painting is described as the pendant to the Winter Landscape now in Schwerin.

The Schwerin painting is characterized by the sombreness of an expanse of snow stretching away into the infinite distance, which modern interpreters see as a symbol of death, a nihilistic sign of doom. The pendant in Dortmund introduces, for the first time in Friedrich's oeuvre, a Gothic church, seen as a monumental vision emerging out of the mist like a phantasmagoria and rising against the gloomy background of a winter sky. Nearer the viewer, a man is leaning back against a boulder and gazing up the crucifix in front of a cluster of young fir trees. He has flung his crutches demonstratively far away from him into the snow. This combination of motifs has been interpreted as a reference to the security of the Christian in his faith.

There is a second version of this picture in the National Gallery, London. Although the two paintings appear at first glance to be identical, there are minute details in the London painting that do not appear in the Dortmund picture. The most noticeable are the gateway in front of the church and the blades of grass poking through the melting snow in the foreground.The Dortmund ‘Winter Landscape’ is probably a replica by Friedrich himself or possibly by a pupil or imitator; its fidelity to the original suggests that it may even have been made while the National Gallery painting was still in Friedrich’s studio in Dresden.

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Caspar David Friedrich was a 19th-century German Romantic landscape painter, generally considered the most important German artist of his generation.[2] He is best known for his mid-period allegorical landscapes which typically feature contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees or Gothic ruins. His primary interest as an artist was the contemplation of nature, and his often symbolic and anti-classical work seeks to convey a subjective, emotional response to the natural world. Friedrich's paintings characteristically set a human presence in diminished perspective amid expansive landscapes, reducing the figures to a scale that, according to the art historian Christopher John Murray, directs "the viewer's gaze towards their metaphysical dimension".

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