The Easel

5th December 2023

Why a Caspar David Friedrich sketchbook cannot leave Germany

The German Romantics, prominent from about 1800, were a fervent lot. Friedrich’s landscapes are full of their allegories about Nature and the Sublime. Still, it’s all a bit vague. For example, do trees in his landscapes represent Germany or are they an embodiment of God? Goethe, sitting on the fence, called his work “religiously patriotic”. From about 1830, Friedrich’s popularity waned but his minimal, evocative compositions are still influential. Rothko apparently shared his desire for a “view of the infinite”.