METAFÍSICA DE UN NAUFRAGIO || Christa Zaat
Caspar David Friedrich (German painter) 1774 - 1840Das Eismeer (The Sea of Ice), 1823-24oil on canvas96.7 x 126.9 cm. (38.07 x 49.96 in.)Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany
This painting may be understood as a sort of programmatic statement and resume of Friedrich's aims and intentions. A source of inspiration for the painting was the polar expedition mounted by William Edward Parry from 1819 to 1820 in search of the North-west Passage. The painting's icy palette corresponds to the Arctic setting. It is undoubtedly one of the artist's masterpieces, yet the radical nature of its composition and subject was greeted in its own day with incomprehension and rejection. The picture remained unsold right up to Friedrich's death in 1840.
In the painting, now often called The Wreck of the Hope, the painter imbued the subject with unsurpassable dramatic intensity. The particular feature of this work is that the drama has already happened. The huge towering pinnacles are the slowly moving icebergs that have long become fixed here. The bold attempt by man to burst the bounds of his allotted sphere ends in death.
When the artist was 13, an accident occurred, that, perhaps subconsciously, formed part of the shadow that seemed to darken his temperament throughout his life. While ice skating he was saved from drowning by his younger brother Christoph, but Christoph himself drowned in the icy water before his eyes. It can be hardly denied that Friedrich's various "sea of ice" paintings must be seen in relation to this traumatic experience.
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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. 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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