Caspar David Friedrich, now viewed as the leading German Romantic painter of nineteenth century art, was described by one contemporary as the pioneer of a new genre: "the tragedy of landscape". Here, Werner Hofmann considers Friedrich's principal achievement, the invention of "landscape as icon", and vividly demonstrates the Friedrich's extraordinary ability to reproduce the natural world in faithful detail, while at the same time imbuing it with spiritual and religious significance.
Carefully placing Friedrich in a wider context, Hofmann examines contemporary judgments and influences on Friedrich's work and his difficult relationship with critics such as Goethe, as well as the way that his religious and political beliefs informed his art, and his unique place within the framework of European Romanticism as a whole. The beautiful illustrations include many of Friedrich's drawings and watercolours as well as over ninety of his works in oils.
Friedrich extended an invitation for others to read multiple meanings into his pictures. Hofmann's ideas cast a remarkable new light on Friedrich's work, yet at the same time leave it open to individual interpretation.