FRIEDRICH, Caspar David
(b. 1774, Greifswald, d. 1840, Dresden)

Bohemian Landscape with Mount Milleschauer

1808
Oil on canvas, 70 x 104 cm
Gemäldegalerie, Dresden

Friedrich can be regarded as the consummate master of early Romantic landscape painting. His work would have sufficed by itself to form our notion of Romantic painting. The symbolic language of his landscapes derives its vocabulary from the study of nature, and is based on a meditative internalisation of the experiences of the senses.

This painting conveys Friedrich's impressions of the countryside in the Bohemian mountains south of Teplitz. Our gaze is taken to the right to Mount Milleschauer, and then, because of the painting's symmetrical structure, to the equally sweeping profile of a second mountain, the Kletschen, to the left. The eye returns from the bluish-green silhouette of these distant mountains to the luscious green sloping pastures at the front. From there it travels down the path to the low-built house in the valley lying, half-concealed, amidst the trees and bushes; the presence of human life is revealed by the column of smoke rising from its chimney. Or we may climb in our minds up the hill to the right of the house, which becomes an increasingly pale yellowish-green with height, perhaps to gain an even better perspective of the landscape. The ease with which the beginning of this path in the foreground takes us on a tour of the scene seems to correspond with the tranquil state of mind brought about by the painting, and accords perfectly with its depiction of nature. With its wonderful delicacy and its relaxed, serene mood, the painting must be one of the most beautiful landscapes in German art.