Museum Folkwang
Frau vor der untergehenden Sonne
  • Caspar David Friedrich
  • Frau vor der untergehenden Sonne, around 1818

  • Woman before the Setting Sun
  • Oil on canvas
  • 22 x 30,5 cm
  • Acquired in 1937
  • Inv. G 45
  • CommentaryAn early 19th century critic once described Casper David Friedrich's paintings as “mystical-allegorical landscapes”. Since then, two types of interpretations have been continually brought forward to explain both the artist's oeuvre and individual works.
    Assuming that his paintings are an expression of a religious hope for salvation, details of the landscapes portrayed are interpreted as symbols of God, death, salvation and resurrection; mountains and cliffs, for example, symbolize a Christian faith which provides humans with security and which can show them the way. In a political interpretation, the old German costumes which a number of the painter's male figures are wearing, oaks or oak forests and Gothic buildings are references to the contemporary liberal nationalist movement with which Caspar David Friedrich openly sympathized.
    ‘Woman before the Setting Sun’ is a metaphor for the faith in God of humans aware of their own transience. His carefully calculated composition awakens the religious symbolism of the motifs presented – sunset/death, a turning path/the end of life, hope for salvation/boulders – even before their meaning is understood.
    A towering female figure, with her back to the viewer, in the middle of the painting, possibly modelled by Friedrich's wife Caroline, looks into a sunset which fills the entire upper half of the painting. A path visible at her feet turns abruptly to the right creating the impression of a threshold that must be crossed. Huge boulders in the foreground accentuate the human figure’s prominent position while at the same time anchoring her in the composition of the painting as a whole, so that her body rests between the earthly and the heavenly sphere.
  • Provenance1905-1906 nachweisbar, Johanna Friedrich, Greifswald
    1935 nachweisbar, Anna Siemssen, Greifswald
    Gerstenberger GmbH, Chemnitz
    1937, aus der Ausstellung bei Gerstenberger, Chemnitz, erworben
  • Obj_Id: 3,005
  • Obj_Internet_S: Highlight
  • Obj_Ownership_S (Verantw):Painting, Sculpture, Media Art
  • Obj_SpareNField01_N (Verantw): 187
  • Obj_Creditline_S: Gemäldesammlung
  • Obj_Title1_S: Frau vor der untergehenden Sonne
  • Obj_Title2_S: Woman before the Setting Sun
  • Obj_PartDescription_S (Titelerg):
  • Obj_SpareMField01_M (Alle Titel): Frau vor der untergehenden Sonne Woman before the Setting Sun Frau vor der untergehenden Sonne
  • Obj_Dating_S: around 1818
  • Jahr von: 1,813
  • Jahr bis: 1,823
  • Obj_IdentNr_S: G 45
  • Obj_IdentNrSort_S: G 0045
  • Obj_Classification_S (Objtyp): Painting
  • Obj_Crate_S: 22 x 30,5 cm
  • Obj_Material_S: Oil on canvas
  • Obj_Technique_S:
  • Obj_SpareSField01_S (Mat./Tech.): Oil on canvas
  • Obj_AccNote_S (Erwerb): Acquired in 1937
  • Obj_PermanentLocation_S (Standort): Internal Exhibition: E 001, Altbau, Sammlung 19. und 20. Jahrhundert
  • Obj_Condition1_S (Druckerei):
  • Obj_Condition2_S (Auflage):
  • Obj_Subtype_S (Genre):
  • Obj_Rights_S: © Museum Folkwang, Essen
Commentary
Artists
Provenance

An early 19th century critic once described Casper David Friedrich's paintings as “mystical-allegorical landscapes”. Since then, two types of interpretations have been continually brought forward to explain both the artist's oeuvre and individual works.
Assuming that his paintings are an expression of a religious hope for salvation, details of the landscapes portrayed are interpreted as symbols of God, death, salvation and resurrection; mountains and cliffs, for example, symbolize a Christian faith which provides humans with security and which can show them the way. In a political interpretation, the old German costumes which a number of the painter's male figures are wearing, oaks or oak forests and Gothic buildings are references to the contemporary liberal nationalist movement with which Caspar David Friedrich openly sympathized.
‘Woman before the Setting Sun’ is a metaphor for the faith in God of humans aware of their own transience. His carefully calculated composition awakens the religious symbolism of the motifs presented – sunset/death, a turning path/the end of life, hope for salvation/boulders – even before their meaning is understood.
A towering female figure, with her back to the viewer, in the middle of the painting, possibly modelled by Friedrich's wife Caroline, looks into a sunset which fills the entire upper half of the painting. A path visible at her feet turns abruptly to the right creating the impression of a threshold that must be crossed. Huge boulders in the foreground accentuate the human figure’s prominent position while at the same time anchoring her in the composition of the painting as a whole, so that her body rests between the earthly and the heavenly sphere.