Caspar David Friedrich
The Cross on the Mountain

Click on the picture to see an enlarged version.

    • Oil on canvas, 44.5 x 37.4 cm
    • Kunstmuseum at Düsseldorf
    • 1812 . .

In this characteristic picture, Friedrich has taken up once again his obsession with the gothic style. The Romantics in general, and Friedrich was a pioneer in this movement, rejected the Greco-Roman style of architecture especially the modern re-incarnation of these forms in baroque and rococo buildings. Instead, they deliberately turned back to the soaring high-gothic as the golden age of European civilization, when human and divine goals united, and when the architectural forms had deliberately immitated nature.

Romantics were fond of pointing out that the interior of medieval cathedrals were reproductions in stone of the towering primal forests of Europe, most of it long ago cut down. Here, Friedrich erects his idealized gothic cathedral in the middle of a forest, between four monumental fir trees in the middle-ground. And the crucifix in the foreground, symbolically surrounded by thorn bushes, although overshadowed by the splendid building and trees, reminds us that at the heart of this European civilization was the unity of faith.

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