Friday, September 23, 2016

VFFT Week 20 - Two Men Contemplating the Moon by Caspar David Friedrich

Caspar David Friedrich (German 1774–1840) 1825–30, Oil on canvas 13 3/4 x 17 1/4 in. (34.9 x 43.8 cm)
I loved this painting the minute I saw it. There are so many nuances of German Romanticism within this piece, it explodes with poetic undertones and hidden symbolism. According to historians, the painting depicts the artist himself (older man on the right) and his young friend, August Heinrich. Heinrich learned a lot from Friedrich. This piece in particular seems to document a moment of contemplation. German thinkers of the time were known to consider the moon as a beautiful symbol of calming the mind.

Looking at the painting, you can see how nature reflects the relationship between master and pupil. Just like Heinrich leans upon Friedrich's shoulder, so does the tree lean upon the rock beside it. One is much older than the other, and has a lot of support to give (notice the tree is not fully grounded, so it needs the support!) Its a beautiful painting, and a sad one in retrospect. Caspar Friedrich would sadly outlive his young friend, who died at the age of 28. He painted another work similar to this one soon after Heinrich passed away. Its artwork full of meaning and memory.

If you want to see it in person, it is currently being exhibited in gallery 807 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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