Thursday, 25 October 2007

Caspar David Friedrich

Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) was one of the greats, a German Romantic artist whose works you probably know even if his name is unfamiliar to you. There's a fine gallery of his works online here.

Some of his more famous paintings are shown here: Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer (The Wanderer Above the Sea of Clouds)

The Abbey in the Oakwood

Moonrise by the Sea

He's also the go-to artist for many books with a Gothic or Romantic atmosphere (especially the classics).

Looking at all of this effective gloom, it's perhaps significant to remember Friedrich's family background. His mother died when he was seven and his sister died of typhoid. Even worse, his brother drowned while trying to save the young Friedrich when the ice on a frozen lake broke up under his weight. His own career was ended by a stroke which left him paralysed and unable to paint. Sadly, not all of his work has survived, some of it destroyed in the fire-bombing of Dresden and the arson attack on the Munich Glaspalast.

UPDATE: The tremendously wise John Self of Asylum points out in the comments that The Wanderer Above the Sea of Clouds was also used on the original hardback (and this US paperback) of Patrick McGrath's Dr Haggard's Disease.

UPDATE 2: Stewart of the excellent BookLit blog has kindly donated his scan of the original cover to Dr Haggard's Disease, which also uses this image.


John Self said...

The Wanderer Above the Sea of Clouds was also used for the first UK cover of one of my favourite novels, Dr Haggard's Disease by Patrick McGrath (see my blog if you haven't heard of it!).

JRSM said...

Well spotted--this is a novel I have not yet read, but need to find. I've loved the other McGrath I've read, which is sadly not much.

I've updated the post to include your information. Thanks for that.

John Self said...

Oh thanks. My own favourite cover of Dr Haggard's Disease is the first UK Penguin paperback - see here for a poorly scanned reproduction - which is a photograph both sinister and erotic but ultimately unfathomable. Credited to Fernando Mercedes, which I think is a company rather than a person. Have seen one or two other examples of their work over the years, but none recently.

Stewart said...

On my blog post for Dr Haggard's Disease I posted up a picture of the Viking paperback, which you can borrow to see The Wanderer Above The Sea Of Clouds in again.

JRSM said...

Excellent--thanks for that, Stewart. it's gone up now, with a link to your excellent site. I'm now prowling through your old posts.

Stewart said...

Not a problem. It's interesting to see how many times and in how many incarnations the same image can appear.

kamaron said...

you would want to say 1770, right?

kamaron said...


JRSM said...

Damnit! You're right! I'll fix that now. Thanks!