OIL PAINTING: Winter Landscape, 1811
The Winter Landscape in Schwerin has its counterpart in a Winter Landscape with Church in Dortmund. The Schwerin painting is characterized by the sombreness of an expanse of snow stretching away into the infinite distance, which modern interpreters see as a symbol of death, a nihilistic sign of doom. The pendant in Dortmund introduces, for the first time in Friedrich's oeuvre, a Gothic church, seen as a monumental vision emerging out of the mist like a phantasmagoria and rising against the gloomy background of a winter sky. Nearer the viewer, a man is leaning back against a boulder and gazing up the crucifix in front of a cluster of young fir trees. He has flung his crutches demonstratively far away from him into the snow. This combination of motifs has been interpreted as a reference to the security of the Christian in his faith.
In the decades before and around 1848 the world, and especially the artists of the time, looked from the north to musical Vienna, and listened to the music of the classical Viennese period. The crow on a dead branch, or the painting of the lonely wanderer between bare trees in Friedrich's Winter Landscape, was set to music by Schubert in his Winterreise.