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Caspar David Friedrich's Der Watzmann: German Romantic Landscape Painting and Historical Geology

Timothy Mitchell
The Art Bulletin
Vol. 66, No. 3 (Sep., 1984), pp. 452-464
Published by: College Art Association
DOI: 10.2307/3050447
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3050447
Page Count: 13
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Caspar David Friedrich's Der Watzmann: German Romantic Landscape Painting and Historical Geology
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Abstract

In size and theme, Friedrich's alpine paintings are unique within his oeuvre. This study proposes that they are intended as pendants illustrating the tenets of the then recently developed science of "geognosy." These were known to Friedrich through the writings of his friends Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert and Carl Gustav Carus. Seen against the background of "geognosy," Friedrich's renderings of the earth's crust are recognizable as a hymn to the universal laws of mountain formation. Friedrich's Watzmann is compared with Ludwig Richter's painting of the same theme and with Joseph Anton Koch's Schmadribachfall. All three refer to the prevailing theory of the origin and purpose of mountains.

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