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Caspar David Friedrich

Born: Greifswald, Pomerania, 5 September 1774
Died: Dresden, 7 May 1840
Nationality: German

Bourgeois - his father was a candle and soapmaker


With Johann Gottfried Quistorp (1790-94)

With Nicolai Abraham Abildgaard, Jens Juel, and Christian August Lorentzen at Akademi for de Skonne Kunster (Academy of Fine Arts), Copenhagen (1794-98)

Life drawing at Hochschule der Bildenden Künste, Dresden (1798)


1799 – debut exhibition at Dresden Hochschule

1801-02 – meets Philipp Otto Runge in Greifswald

1805 – wins prize at Weimarer Künstfreunde (Weimar Friends of Art) exhibition (organized by Goethe) for Summer Landscape with Dead Oak (Schlossmuseum, Weimar)

1810 – exhibits Monk by the Sea and Abbey in the Oakwood at Berlin Akademie; becomes Akademie member

1823 – shares apartment with Norwegian landscape painter Johann Christian Dahl

1824 – appointed professor at Akademie der Bildenden Künst, Dresden

1835 – suffers a stroke; stops painting, but continues working in sepia

1838 – last works exhibited at the Dresden Akademie


Copenhagen (1794-98); frequent visits to Pomerania, Bohemia, the Harz mountains. Friedrich spent most summers on hiking and sketching expeditions.

Commissions from: 

Frederick William IV, Frederick William III (kings of Prussia); Nicolas I (Tsar of Russia)

Important Artworks: 

Monk by the Sea, 1810 (Nationalgalerie, Berlin)

Abbey in the Oakwood, 1810 (Nationalgalerie, Berlin)

Woman at the Window, 1822 (Nationalgalerie, Berlin)

Sea of Ice, 1823-24 (Kunsthalle, Hamburg)

Cloister Ruin Eldena and the Riesengebirge (Mountains), 1830-35 (Pommersches Landesmuseum). This is a typical example of how Friedrich created natural looking landscapes from elements geographically far apart. The Eldena ruin is by the Baltic Sea, about 5 kilometers from Friedrich's childhood home in Greifswald. The Riesengebirge are more then 300 kilometers southwest of Greifswald, in the present-day Czech Republic.

See also:Georg Friedrich Kersting, Friedrich in His Studio, 1819 (Nationalgalerie, Berlin) and Friedrich in His Studio, 1811 (Kunsthalle, Hamburg)




According to Friedrich:

“The heart is the only true source of art, the language of a pure, child-like soul. Any creation not sprung from this origin can only be artifice. Every true work of art is conceived in a hallowed hour and born in a happy one, from an impulse in the artist’s heart, often without his knowledge.”

Cited in K.K. Eberlein, C.D. Friedrich, Bekenntnisse (Leipzig: Klinkhardt und Bierman, 1924), pp. 126 ff; translated and cited in Lorenz Eitner, Neoclassicism and Romanticism 1750-1850, vol. 2: Neoclassicism and Romanticism (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1970), 54.