10/3/08

Caspar David Friedrich, The Cross in the Mountains (The Tetschen Altar)


Gemäldegalerie, Dresden

Date:
1807-08
Technique: Oil on canvas, 115 x 110 cm (without frame)

This was one of Caspar David Friedrich's earliest, and most controversial paintings. Finished in 1807, he exhibited The Cross in the Mountains in the following year in a frame which he had made himself. The whole was designed to serve as the center piece of an altar. For the first time in Christian art, an altarpiece was conceived in terms of a pure landscape. The cross, viewed obliquely from behind, is an insignificant element in the composition. More important are the dominant rays of the evening sun, which the artist said depicted the setting of the old, pre-Christian world. The mountain symbolizes an immovable faith, while the fir trees are an allegory of hope.

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