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Caspar David Friedrich, Winter Landscape

Key facts
Full title Winter Landscape
Artist Caspar David Friedrich
Artist dates 1774 - 1840
Date made probably 1811
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 32.5 × 45 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1987
Inventory number NG6517
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Winter Landscape
Caspar David Friedrich

This was the first painting by Friedrich, one of the principal figures of German Romantic art, to enter a British public collection when it was purchased by the National Gallery in 1987. A man, having cast aside his crutches, lies against a large boulder in a snowy landscape as he prays in front of a shining crucifix protected by three fir trees – a trinity that recalls the Christian Trinity of God the Father, Christ and the Holy Ghost. The silhouette of a German Gothic cathedral or church looms in the mist, its facade and spires echoing the shapes of the trees.

The picture appears to be a companion to another painting, of the same date and title, in the Staatliches Museum, Schwerin. In the Schwerin picture, a similar tiny figure, leaning on a crutch, stares at a deserted snow-covered landscape under a grey-black sky as he wanders among dead or dying oak trees. If that picture is one of desolation and despair, the National Gallery painting offers the hope of resurrection through Christian faith.

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