Friedrich, Caspar David

BORN 5 Sep 1774, Greifswald, Pommern - DIED 7 May 1840, Dresden, Sachsen
GRAVE LOCATION Dresden, Sachsen: Trinitatisfriedhof, Fiedlerstraße 1, Johannstadt-Nord (I A)

Landscape painter of Romanticism. Born in Greifswald, on north German coast, where he received a spartan Protestant upbringing. His father was a candle-maker and not unsuccessful in business. His mother died in 1781 and in 1787 his brother drowned while he tried to save Friedrich's life after a skating accident. Friedrich studied art at the Copenhagen Academy (1794-1798) and moved to Dresden in 1798.

In Dresden he came into contact with Tieck and Novalis. Around 1803 he was subjected to depressions and probably tried to kill himself by cutting his throat. Reportedly, he grew a beard to hide the scar from view. Friedrich was a melancholy figure, which perhaps explains the mysterious and intense nature of his work. His many trips into the mountains and the countryside provided him with material that he used for his paintings in subsequent years.

Soon after this black period celebration and fame followed. In 1805 he won a prize awarded by the Weimar Friends of Art (Goethe and Mayer) and in 1808 he started using oil for his paintings ("The Cross in the Mountains", 1808, Gemäldegalerie, Dresden). In 1811 he became a member of the Academy in Berlin. He married the much younger Caroline Bommer on Januari 21th, 1818 at the Kreuzkirche, Dresden. From 1823 the Norwegian painter J.C.C. Dahl lived under his roof at his house on the banks of the Elbe.

After a severe stroke in 1835 it was hard for him to keep working. Although the crown prince of Prussia had bought his work in 1810 it seems that he had completely been forgotten at the time of his death in 1840.

Nine of his paintings were lost when the Glaspalast in Münich burnt down on March 6th, 1931.

Work: "Abbey in the Oakwoods" (1810, Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin); "Wanderer Looking over a Sea of Fog" (c.1815, Kunsthalle, Hamburg); "Chalk Cliffs on Rügen (c.1819, Oskar Reinhart Foundation, Winterthur); "Woman at the Window" (1822); "The Stages of Life" (c.1835, Museum der Bildende Kunste, Leipzig).

Related persons
• was painted by Bähr, Johann Karl Ulrich
• was a friend of Carus, Carl Gustav
• influenced Carus, Carl Gustav
• was pupil to Kügelgen, Gerhard von
• was painted by Kügelgen, Gerhard von
• knew Oehme, Ernst Ferdinand
• knew Runge, Philip Otto
• knew Seidler, Louise
• knew Tieck, Ludwig

6/3/1931The Glaspalast in Munich burns down. With it 3,000 works of art were burned, among them nine paintings by Caspar David Friedrich and "Dom über einen Stadt" by Karl Friedich Schinkel. The second version of this last work was lost in Berlin in 1945. [Schinkel, Karl Friedrich]


Caspar David Friedrich's grave at the Trinitatisfriedhof, Dresden.
Picture by Androom (7 Aug 1998)


The grave of Caspar David Friedrich at the Trinitatisfriedhof, Dresden.
Picture by Androom (27 Aug 2012)


"Chalk Cliffs on Rugen".
   (1818-1819, Winterthur: Oskar Reinhart Foundation)

"Klosterruine Eldena bei Greifswald" ("Ruins of the Monastery Edena near Greifswald").

"Friedhof im Schnee".
   (1826, Leipzig: Museum der bildende Künste)

   (c1834, Leipzig: Museum der bildende Künste)

Schilderkunst van A tot Z, REBO, Lisse, 1990
The Great Artists 15 - Friedrich, Marshall Cavendish Partworks, London, 1985

Friedrich-Materna, Amalie

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 25 Apr 2022