FRIEDRICH, Caspar David
(b. 1774, Greifswald, d. 1840, Dresden)
Landscape with Grave, Coffin and Owl1836-37
Sepia over pencil, 385 x 383 mm
On 26 June 1835 Friedrich suffered a stroke that left him partially paralysed in the arms and legs. After an initial period during which he was confined to bed, he went to Teplice to convalesce. He was from now on virtually unable to paint in oils and had to restrict himself to drawings. His sepia drawing Landscape with Grave, Coffin and Owl is symptomatic of the obsession with which Friedrich tracked death in the last years of his life. The eyes of the exaggeratedly large, surreal night bird glint in the light of the moon which floats like a nimbus above the owl's head.
Visible in the background is Cape Arkona on the island of Rügen, although in a different landscape setting. It is possible that the owl, while undoubtedly a bird of death, here also represents a symbol of wisdom.