How Romantic

Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, Kunsthalle Hamburg and Chalk Cliffs of Rugen, Stadtgraten Wintertheur

Both painted in 1818 by Caspar David Friedrich, oil on canvas

Casper Friedrich is a 19th century German Romantic Painter who is known as one of the most important German painters of his time (Choules, Reece, 2013). He is best known for his mid period landscapes which show contemplative figures silhouetted against a landscape of his choice. His symbolic, anti classical works usually conveys a subjective, emotional response to the natural world. He grew up in a town near the baltic sea and came of age during a period when a growing disillusionment with materialistic society was giving a rise to a new appreciation of spirituality across Europe (Casper David Friedrich, 2017). It was not until his marriage and after his honeymoon where Friedrich displays a new sense of levity which contributed to a brighter palette and less dulling scenery.

The elements in art that are most present in these two pieces are value, color, and texture. Value is shown in these two contrasting pieces by the way he uses light show the time of day, in the first piece the lightness of the pieces makes it seems as thought the sun is rising. The second piece uses light to show that the sun is high above and it might be mid day where the people are escaping the heat by sitting under the shade of a large tree. Color is used in the two pieces to show where the values change in the piece and where it attracts the viewers attention, in both the pieces the color is focused on the landscape which is primarily in the background of each piece. Finally I think texture is shown in both of these pieces from the rocks. In the first image the rocks look rounded and boulder like where that changes in the second piece where the cliffs all look jagged and sharp.

Though I think both of these pieces are simplistically beautiful they are not something I would keep in my home and I think I would get easily bored of them. As people might have noticed in my other blog posts, I usually lean towards more risqué or controversial pieces for my personal tastes, the three pieces I mention further down this blog post, are more my style. Both of these pieces are esthetically pleasing for the eye but they do not draw a sudden emotion for me. I wanted to compare these pieces to that of Francisco Goya because I think both of these painters are on the opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to romanticism. This german romanticism painter had many political pieces but these two grabbed my attention because of the calmness shown in them. Both of the pieces lack any major philosophical style but I do think they they hint a type of conquering or manifest destiny, showing that they were the first to really explore the landscapes shown in each of the paintings.

Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog

Witches Sabbath were all painted by Francisco Goya, 1798, oil on canvas

Museo Lazaro Galdiano, Madrid

Francisco Goya  was a Spanish Romantic Painter born in the mid 1700’s. He was considered one of the most important Spanish artists of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Goya was extremely successful throughout his career and was known as one of the greatest portraitists of modern times (Voorhines, James, 2017).

Quinta del Sordo (1819-1822) is the time frame in which Goya produced 14 similar pieces from the Black Paintings series which showcased his dread of old age and fear of madness which he was experiencing. Not much is known about these paintings because in 1790 when he lost his hearing from an undiagnosed illness he withdrew from the public eye and lived in a farmhouse which was converted into a studio that was known as La Quinta del Sordo (The house of the deaf man). It was assumed that Goya felt alienated from the social and political trends that came from the 1814 restoration of bourbon monarchy and was exhibited in his paintings. At the age of 75, going through mental and physical troubles alone, he completed the 14 paintings, where three from the set are shown above. Some of them were originally painted on the inside of his house with no intent of showing the world, till after his death they were transferred onto canvas and displayed at Museo del Prado in Madrid. In 1798 the Duke and Duchess purchased six of the paintings that were related to witchcraft and it was said that the acquisition of these paintings was led by the Duchess not her husband. It is not known whether these pieces were commissioned or purchased upon completion.

The elements of art that I found in these three pieces were value, which brought attention to the center of the piece by using light tones in the center and dark tones on the frame of the pieces and used a complex amounts of middle tones like gray’s to show the transition from dark to light. Space is another element that spoke out to me because Goya successfully used positive and negative areas of the work to create a sense of depth in the work, showing that the witches are closer to front of the work and the depth of the cities or objects in the foreground. And finally, color is a large element from these works. The brightness of the colors highlight really illuminate the acts which the witches are participating in.

I love the witchy, almost haunting themes shown in this set of paintings. My first reactions to these pieces were very questioning, what was going on, why would he paint them, why take such a rebellious step in this era? With more research, I saw that Goya was growing old and crazy and did not care about others criticism (exactly why I like it so much). Goya’s style differed very much from his romanticism counterparts, he very much stayed within the historical realm of art until he become deaf and engulfed in his own solitude, where he began to paint controversial images. These images where more of the demons that haunted him, and one would think that maybe they were a self portrayal of himself thinking he was being terrorized by witches since his deafness was undiagnosed.

Goya’s art is still influential to todays visual art and motion pictures.

The Witches Most WTF Moments, Explained:

“Caspar David Friedrich – The Complete Works.” Caspar David Friedrich – The Complete Works. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
Choules, Reece. “Caspar David Friedrich: The Romantic Pioneer.” Culture Trip. N.p., 23 Aug. 2013. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
Voorhies, Author: James. “Francisco De Goya (1746–1828) and the Spanish Enlightenment | Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art.” The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.


  1. Wow! I have never seen these paintings before, but now I cant keep off my off of them. The detail that is within the tenebrism brings out so much drama in all three of these. Goya was such an influential artist of the time, along with artists like Diego Velazquez. Linked I attached is a very informative biography of Franisco Goya.


  2. Bridget! The photos you have chosen to discuss; are much like the ones I choose to discuss. In fact, your first painting from Casper Friedrich is the same one I choose in my blog post. So as you can imagine I preferred Friedrich’s work opposed to Francisco Goya’s work however, Goya’s work was also very beautiful.
    The elements you discussed in the first series of works was the same elements I had chosen to discuss, and it was refreshing to read someone else’s opinion towards the elements. When discussing value, you spoke about the shadowing being cast from the possibility of the sun rising, I also spoke of shadowing and it was nice to see your views on the matter. Same can be said for Friedrich’s second piece, shadowing is definitely a big part of the paining, showing the placement of the sun so that we get a better sense of time and place. Color is such a major part in both of these photos, both the values and colors complement each other well in each picture in each of their own unique ways. We had both mentioned that the colors in the photographs attracted the viewers, having the main focus on the landscape to tell a story. Finishing with texture, which we both see is in the rocks. I agree with your statements that in the first piece the rocks appear to be rounder and bolder, opposed to the second piece where the cliffs appear to look rather sharp and jagged.
    Friedrich painted these pieces because he had been there before, however like in the first piece it shows a solider which is symbolic during the time in which the piece was created during the war. I cannot necessarily relate to painting a picture to tell a story of war however, I can relate to painting a piece in which I can a special connection to. In this case Friedrich painted a piece where he had been to the actual location before, making is work more meaningful.
    I never thought about the lack of major philosophical style, so it was interesting for you to bring that up. And I do agree with you that both paintings bring the sense of conquering and manifest destiny, having the two show the first real exploration of the landscape.


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