The Easel

The greats outdoors: how Caspar David Friedrich searched the German landscape for reflections of his soul

The German Romantics saw God reflected in nature but man, somehow separate from nature, was unable to grasp the divine. The ensuing “longing” was the animating emotion of that movement and Friedrich one of its great exponents. The symbols he used – “figures staring into infinity … empty shores” are clear enough although the works are not easily understood. Says one “they are vague, even in his soul”.