Friedrich and German Romanticism

The period of German Romanticism broke the individualist and
rationalistic thinking of the Autklarung, advancing aesthetic ideals that
transcended reason and exalted art. The flourishing of this period can be
characterized in numerous ways, one of which is through a glimpse in the
life of German Romantic artists such as the famous landscape painter Caspar
David Friedrich (see appendix 1). To a large extent, the content and
abstraction of Friedrich’s works mirror the Romanticist idealism in Germany
during his time, as reflected in his compositions such as the allegorical
oil paintings Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (1818) and Stages of Life
(1835) (see appendix 2 and 3). In these works, the artist took a great deal
in transforming landscape paintings from objectivism to an intense and
emotional depiction of man, nature and the metaphysical. Meanwhile, the
dynamism of his life as an artist is as intense as his works of art. On one
hand, he suffered from considerable criticisms and during his time, he was
not able to gain the wide approval the public. On the other hand, he was
also praised by many of his contemporaries in the Romantic Era due to his
artistic, philosophical and aesthetic treatment of his works. In any case,
he still remained as one of the most staple and distinguished figures of
the Romantic Movement in Germany. This paper further examines on these
contexts in the subsequent sections.
A discussion on the artistry of Friedrich can begin no less than
through a brief discussion on his biography. In essence, Friedrich had a
life replete with both triumphs and adversities; his early life began in a
series of tragedies and it ended with him being half-mad. Born on September
5, 1774, in Greifswald, Swedish Pomerania, on Germany’s Baltic coast,
Friedrich was the sixth out of the ten children, raised in a strictly
Lutheran family (Collins). Unlike the trouble-free childhood experi…


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