Abbey in the oak forest by Kaspar David Friedrich

Abbey in the oak forest by Kaspar David Friedrich

This is one of the best Friedrich paintings devoted to the theme of death and resurrection. “Abbey in an oak forest” is considered a pair work for the painting “Monk by the Sea”. If the monk portrayed by the sea still belongs to the earthly life, here he has already moved to the next world. In the foreground, the viewer sees an open grave – a symbol of inevitably approaching death. The upper part of the picture is illuminated by an unearthly radiance, which gives hope for the coming resurrection for eternal life.

The very landscape looks absolutely incredible. Nevertheless, it

is known that, working on it, Friedrich was based on his own experience of close observation of nature. A carefully made sketch of one of the dead trees has survived – it is dated May 5, 1809 – and it is quite possible that this is not the only sketch made by Friedrich for the “Abbey”. For example, the ruins of the church accurately reproduce the ruins of the Cistercian abbey in Eldene, which the artist visited, visiting his native Greifswald. These ruins, by the way, are a through image of Friedrich’s creativity.

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