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Friedrich: the Spiritual Eye

Caspar David Friedrich - Dolmen in the Snow - 1807 - Oil on canvas, 61,5 x 80 cm - Gemäldegalerie, Dresden (click photo for larger image)Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) is considered the greatest German Romantic painter and one of the most original geniuses in the history of landscape painting. He was born on the Baltic coast, and after studying at the Copenhagen Academy from 1794 to 1798, he settled permanently in Dresden. Friedrich pursued a rare and instinctive single-mindedness into the spiritual significance of landscape. He mentally summoned up the images he put on canvas. “Close your bodily eye, so that you may see your picture first with your spiritual eye”, he wrote, “then bring to the light of day that which you have seen in the darkness so that it may react on others from the outside inwards.”

A dolmen is a Neolithic stone formation, consisting of a horizontal stone supported by several vertical stones, and thought to be a tomb. The one portrayed in the work featured here is probably stood near Gützkow (a town in the District of Vorpommern-Greifswald in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany). It was removed between 1825 and 1829. Friedrich made several excursions to prehistoric burial sites.

Search right here on What About Art? to read more about Caspar David Friedrich.

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