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Garden Bower in Greifswald

Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Neue Pinakothek, Munich, Allemagne © BPK, Berlin, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / image BStGS

Caspar David Friedrich

(1774 - 1840)

Date : 1818 | Medium : Huile sur toile

Caspar David Friedrich's work is symbolic of German Romanticism; the painter is known primarily for his canvas Drifting Clouds. We will present a different work here, Garden Bower in Greifswald. Two anonymous figures, with their backs almost turned to the viewer, contemplate the outline of a Gothic church that dominates the greenery and stands out against the twilight sky. This building is modelled on Saint Nicolas Church in Greifswald, Friedrich's home town. However, although the name of the town is part of the work's title, its exact geographical identity fades into the background, as does the identity of the characters; the church is the prototype of every German cathedral and the scene becomes an allegorical and mystical ideal.

The foreground, which consists of the garden bower and the two stationary figures, creates a frame within the painting, focusing the viewer's gaze. You are invited onto this terrace, into this intimate setting where the bower acts as a special observation post and a transition between interior and exterior, home and nature. The church rises out of the trees and is depicted as a product of the land itself. The building is placed in the centre of the composition and acts as a landmark, drawing in the gaze, a horizon embodying the spirit of the homeland; it also inspires viewers to immerse themselves in the feeling of piety which floods the canvas through the evening light and to trust in the national and Christian future symbolised by the cathedral.



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