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One of the key ideas that underpinned the Romantic Age was the notion of the sublime, and no Romantic painter captured the sublime more effectively than the German landscapist Caspar David Friedrich. A deeply pious, somber man, Friedrich hardly ever left his homeland, and his genius did not reveal itself until his thirties. But when it did, the result was landscape painting like nothing ever seen before. Rich in symbolism, Friedrich's landscapes capture the spiritual power of nature, and it is easy for the viewer to be both overwhelmed and attracted by his painstakingly detailed scenes of silence.
In Friedrich's sublime natural landscape, humanity is small, and mortal, as painting like Abbey of the Oakwoods confirm. Sadly, Friedrich's own human life was blighted by bereavement, torment, sickness and obscurity. By the time of his death, he was all but forgotten. But now we can appreciate fully his huge contribution to Romantic painting. Running time: 50 minutes.