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Caspar David Friedrich : “A Walk at Dusk / Man Contemplating a Megalith” (c. 1830-1835)

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His head bowed, a man walks alone in the silvery, cold moonlit night while contemplating a megalithic tomb and its implicit message of death. It is winter, and all around him nature is dying. Leafless trees loom behind like specters, but a grove of verdant oaks rises through the mist in the background with the promise of life. The waxing moon, high in the sky, also acts as a counterbalance to death, symbolizing Christ and the promise of rebirth for the artist Caspar David Friedrich.

Friedrich was part of the German Romantic movement; his deeply personal and introspective vision addressed Christian themes through analogies based on the cycles of nature. A Walk at Dusk was among a small group of works Friedrich completed before he suffered a debilitating stroke in 1835. The painting embodies both the melancholy he experienced during this period and the consolation he found in the Christian faith.

(Text courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program, CC BY 4.0).

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