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Romantic Birds

Friedrich_HibouThe other day, I ran across this charming little painting by Caspar David Friedrich that is currently part of a “custody battle” in France (le patrimoine). You can read more about this court case here. I’m sort of amused at the claims the French government is making on this (very) German painting, but it isn’t the story that interests me (outside of the fact that I didn’t know that David d’Angers had visited Friedrich’s studio in Dresden; we’re always talking about foreign artists in French ateliers and not vice versa). Anyway, I’m intrigued with that painting. Generally speaking, I prefer French art and high drama. But I have a soft spot for Friedrich. I remember the first time I saw one of his works: it was his Cross in the Mountains and it was like I was receiving or witnessing a revelation. Seriously, I was so moved by the painting’s brilliant luminosity and utter stillness and absolute serenity. Hence began my love affair with this quiet, melancholic artist.

The romantics liked their birds. Probably the most famous owl image is by Goya, with his Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters Even though I am a huge fan of Goya and the darker side of romanticism, I am much more drawn to Friedrich’s little hibou (owl). Francisco_de_Goya-_The_Sleep_of_Reason_Produces_Monsters

Conversation topic: Whose romanticism do you prefer and why?

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