Caspar David Friedrich
Caspar David Friedrich was a Germany romantic painter from the 19th century. In high school, I had a paperback copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and it featured one of Friedrich’s famous paintings on the cover (Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon). I’ve always loved that book, and the painting has been a favorite as well.
Fast forward with me to Deep Magic. For the January 2003 issue, I interviewed the artist Les Edwards since we were using one of his pieces for the cover art. I still remember when I found his work, especially his painting “The List of Seven” and how it spoke to me. It was a painting of a burned out cathedral in a devasted forest with seven ominous monks marching closer. That imagery stuck in my mind. The cathedral symbolized the greatest of the past. Looking at the crumbling shell evoked its past splendour, its bustling grounds, the murmurs and chanting songs of the monks. But despite its past glory, it was a skeleton of its past, like the leafless winter trees in the background.
Then I learned that Edwards’ inspiration for the painting was Caspar David Friedrich, and that it was based on his painting “Cloiser Graveyard in the Snow.” I did some Googling about it and was blown away by yet another breathtaking work.
I hunted for the original and learned that it had been in an art museum in Dresden Germany that was destroyed during the bombing raids of World War II. What a haunting concept. The artist painted a fallen cathedral in an oak orchard, and then his own rendering was destroyed by bombs over a hundred years after his own death.To me, caspar David Friedrich’s work represents the theme of IDUMEA. The crumbling cathedral speaks to an elegant past that is lost to us. I love how art can give you a feeling of kinship with people from the past.
Isaiah once wrote, “your speech will whisper out of the dust.” (Isa 29:4). That’s a good description for what Caspar Friedrich’s work does to me.