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Caspar David Friedrich makes use of the structure of chalk cliffs in order to frame a composition in which a couple plus a friend look on from the foreground. It is classically Friedrich, using his standard approach of placing small figures amongst a larger landscape scene.
This famous German painter played a major role in promoting landscape painting as a genre in its own right, when previously it had been used to support other content. For example, it would add visual interest to some of Giorgione's portraits, or allowing Bosch to add some of his hellish creatures. Friedrich felt it was time to celebrate the beauty of power of nature within art and would use human figures as a means to underline these strengths. Chalk Cliffs on Rugen appears to display a young couple happily playing in their local environment, looking out across a huge expanse of sea, alongside a friend.
The painting dates from 1818 and was produced shortly after the artist had married Christiane Caroline Bommer. The scene here may actually have been of the two of them on their honeymoon, whilst also spending time in the company of his brother, Christian. They are known to have travelled to Neubrandenburg, Greifswald and the island of Rügen as part of an extended break once all of the formalities of their marriage has been completed.
This painting can now be found at the Kunst Museum Winterthur in the north of Switzerland. This respected institution holds a wide variety of paintings from across different art movements and from their collection of work related to the career of Friedwich, you will also find the likes of Carl Spitzweg, Ferdinand Kobell, Adolph Menzel and Wilhelm Leibl here. Beyond German art, there are also several Austrian and Swiss artists included, plus Camille Corot too.