Caspar David Friedrich: Melancholy Rests in the Soul

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3 min readJul 31, 2020


卡斯帕·大卫·弗雷德里希(Caspar David Friedrich)(1774–1840)是浪漫主义画派的风景画画家,他的一生都寄情山水,以浪漫而感性的方式表达面对自然时的情感,同时也在诉说自己的故事。

Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840) is a landscape painter of the Romantic School. He has been passionate about landscapes all his life, expressing his feelings when facing nature with emotions and sensations as if each piece of nature has her own story.


He was sensitive by nature. His mother died when he was seven years old. His sister died when he was eight years old. At the age of thirteen, his brother lost his life to save him from drowning. At the age of seventeen, another sister also passed away. These bitter experiences made him sentimental and pessimistic.

The Abbey in the Oakwood, Caspar David Friedrich, 1809–10, Oil on canvas, 110cm x 171cm, Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin


This “The Abbey in the Oakwood” is a landscape painting mixed with death. The picture depicts a deserted cemetery, and several monks are faintly seen carrying a coffin for burial. The sky is bright and gentle, but the silhouettes of the branches with teeth and claws and the ruined walls add a bit of darkness to the picture. Still, the whole painting is ethereal but reveals a trace of coldness and a hint of melancholy in mystery.

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, Caspar David Friedrich, 1818, Oil on canvas, 94.8cm x 74.8cm, Kunsthalle Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany


“Wanderer above the Sea of Fog” is a gorgeous painting. The person in the picture is on the top of a mountain, his hair is a little disheveled in the wind, he is holding a thin stick in his right hand, and his left leg is on the rock. The mountains in front of him are beautiful, and the sea of ​​clouds is vast. Perhaps what he felt at this moment was a sense of detachment, a reverence in the face of nature, or maybe loneliness before the immense mountains and rivers.

The Sea of Ice, Caspar David Friedrich, 1823–1824, Oil on canvas, 96.7cm x 126.9cm, Kunsthalle Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

《冰之海洋》又被称为《希望残骸》(The Wreck of Hope),这幅作品描绘了海难残骸撞破冰原后,碎片堆积起来,宛若一块巨大的坟墓,从边缘伸向天空。画面右侧可以看到残骸的船尾,上面刻有的铭文帮助我们确认这是MHS Griper,威廉·爱德华·帕里(William Edward Parry)向北极探险时所用的船只。

“The Sea of Ice” is also known as “The Wreck of Hope”. This work depicts the debris from a shipwreck crashing into an ice sheet. The waste piles up like a colossal tomb, stretching out from the edge to the sky. The stern of the wreck can be seen on the right side of the screen. The inscription on it helps us confirm that this is the MHS Griper, the ship used by William Edward Parry during his expedition to the North Parry.


In Friedrich’s works, you can always find a piece of ethereal, a slice of romantic, and a grasp of melancholy. His paintings, Goethe’s novels, and Beethoven’s music are all classic representatives of German romanticism.

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