Caspar David Friedrich: Neubrandenburg

oil on canvas, 1816/17;
height: 92 cm

The City of Neubrandenburg in Mecklenburg is around 60 km south of Greifswald. Caspar David Friedrichs was very familiar with the city of his father's birth and sketched it on frequent occasions. Some of the details provoke questions: Why has a Gothic tip been added to the steeple of St Mary's, which then rises into the skies like a needle? How did the majestic crest of the lowland mountains or the burial mound end up in the foreground of the image? The city stands as a silhouette against the sky, stained red with the early morning sun, although this vista would not have been seen from a north-eastern location. Then there is the cosmic sky with its billowing clouds and their upright pillars, shining in bright yellow hues.

Answers can be found if one perceives the image as the symbolic representation of a religious statement. The clouds, opening like a curtain on the central plane of the picture, allow the light of the dawning day to pass, banishing the night and the darkness to the upper section. Against this outlandishly sized 'glimmer of hope', the city appears as a place of longing and the promise of a better life beyond the grave. The figures of two wanderers, facing reverently into the image, direct the gaze into its centre. They are emerging from the shadowy 'valley of death' and its burial mound to now face the light of 'celestial Jerusalem'.


Text: B.F.

The exhibit refers to:

Western Pomerania until 1945

Look here for the original exhibit:

Pommersches Landesmuseum

Pommersches Landesmuseum

Rakower Straße 9
17489 Greifswald