Moonrise over the Sea Caspar David Friedrich Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Moonrise Over the Sea by Caspar David Friedrich is an 1822 inspired piece of art on view at the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin. It portrays a man and two women sitting adjacent to the rocky shore. Their backs are seen facing the viewer as they gaze at the sea.

By the sea, at Moonrise, you also notice two sailing ships headed towards the shore. One of the women holds the other by the waste in what looks like an embrace of someone close. The painting showcases a rural landscape, and the depiction of time as highlighted by Friedrich is felt. In the rural scenery, the viewer can notice a large oak towards the moonlight enveloped by what looks like misty haze. What was Friedrich trying to symbolise?

Caspar David Friedrich is one of the world’s best painters, and Moonrise Over the Sea is one of his best pieces, and the most loved. There are many opinions interpreting the angle taken by Friedrich. Some say he was not strong in the image of a human; the reason he took a dark perspective. The artist painted a silhouette, something that can be considered convincing. Others say that he decided to draw his figures from the back to give his painting a universal sound and make it general.

It is believed that he was trying to emphasise on faith. The painting helps people to calm down in times of inexorably approaching death. The artist maintains purple hues throughout the drawing. Friedrich considered these tones to bring out a feeling of mourning. His work is viewed as a piece of beauty and peace. It brings a sense of entanglement with the surroundings as brought out by the people gazing at the calm vastness of the sea. In it, you can also notice darkness setting in, a shift of one moment to another.

What would the ships be carrying? Looking at them closely, you cannot fail to imagine the horrifying history of slavery at the time. During this time, refugee boats sank, and forced migration was the norm. The painting, however, brings in a soft touch, introducing the future of welcoming shores and a peaceful environment where anyone can sit and enjoy the waves of the sea. The sea is depicted as safe and not an obstacle anymore.

In this piece, there is something comforting, unlike most of the other works done by Friedrich, such as the ‘Wandered above the sea of fog.’ Nature here is brought out strongly, where the three people in the painting are seen to look into it with hope. They don’t appear anxiousness but are seen to be expectant. The canvas at Alte Nationalgalerie is zoomed in, given that you can only see a few details of the environment. The man in the painting is cut out, highlighting that the image has been zoomed in. Moonrise Over the Sea is a clear highlight of calm and belonging. As the moon rises, the people leave the rocky shores with care, aware of the peaceful environment.

Moonrise over the Sea in Detail Caspar David Friedrich