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

Neubrandenburg

c. 1817
Oil on canvas, 91 x 72 cm
Pommersches Landesmuseum, Greifswald

Soaring high above the town, which is seen in silhouette from the north-east, is the slender spire of the Marienkirche. The hilly landscape on the horizon, above which grandiose banks of clouds unfurl into an enormous sky, is the product of pure imagination. This has led some art historians to conclude that the work is not intended as a straightforward veduta, but as a glorification of Gothic Neubrandenburg. The two men on the track in the foreground stand motionless beside what is probably a dolmen and contemplate the cityscape in the distance. Opinions differ as to whether the lighting conditions represent sunrise or sunset. Like the bushes shedding their leaves in the foreground, the migratory birds in the sky, probably storks, serve as pointers to approaching winter and thereby to death.