“Moonrise by the Sea”
by Caspar David Friedrich
“Moonrise by the Sea” by Caspar David Friedrich was painted in 1822 depicting a romantic seascape scene. Three young people, two women side by side and a man further back, are sitting on a large boulder by the sea, silhouetted against the sky as they watch the moon rising to the east above a band of clouds. In the distance are two sailing vessels, ghosting on a light breeze. The painting is a view of the Baltic Sea, near Friedrich’s birthplace in Swedish Pomerania.
This painting is held in the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin, a similarly named painting by Friedrich is at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg with is much larger and painted in 1821.
Swedish Pomerania was a Dominion under the Swedish Crown from 1630 to 1815, situated on what is now the Baltic coast of Germany and Poland. After multiple wars, disputes and treaties, the Congress of Vienna it transferred to Prussia in 1815.
Caspar David Friedrich
Caspar David Friedrich (1774 – 1840) was a 19th-century German Romantic landscape painter, generally considered the most important German artist of his generation. He is best known for his allegorical landscapes which typically feature contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees or Gothic or megalithic ruins. His primary interest as an artist was the contemplation of nature, and his often symbolic and anti-classical work seeks to convey a subjective, emotional response to the natural world. Friedrich’s paintings characteristically set a human presence in diminished perspective amid expansive landscapes, reducing the figures to a scale.
The rise of Nazism in the early 1930s saw a resurgence in Friedrich’s popularity, but this was followed by a sharp decline as his paintings were, by association with the Nazi movement, interpreted as having a nationalistic aspect. Fortunately in the late 1970s that Friedrich regained his reputation as an icon of the German Romantic movement and a painter of international importance.
- Is Caspar David Friedrich the master of silhouetted figures against the night sky?
Moonrise by the Sea
- Title: Moonrise by the Sea
- German: Mondaufgang am Meer (Mondschein auf ruhigem Meer)
- Artist: Caspar David Friedricht
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Date: 1822
- Dimensions: Height: 55 cm (21.6 ″); Width: 71 cm (27.9 ″)
- Museum: National Gallery (Berlin) – Alte Nationalgalerie
Caspar David Friedrich
- Name: Caspar David Friedrich
- Born: 1774 – Greifswald – at the time Swedish Pomerania
- Died: 1840 – Dresden, Germany
- Nationality: German
- Notable works:
Explore Alte Nationalgalerie – National Gallery, Berlin
- “In Summer” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
- “In the Conservatory” by Édouard Manet
- “Moonrise by the Sea” by Caspar David Friedrich
- “Cromwell in Battle of Naseby” by Charles Landseer
- Masterpieces of The National Gallery (Berlin)
“All beginnings are hard.”
– German Proverb
Photo Credit: Caspar David Friedrich [Public domain]