Two Men Contemplating The Moon

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Caspar David Friedrich, Two Men Contemplating The Moon, c.1830
By ALEXA BIRT

Caspar David Friedrich's oil on canvas Two Men Contemplating the Moon features two figures staring off into the lavender sky covered by gnarled tree limbs. It is speculated that the two figures present in the painting represent Friedrich and his pupil August Heinrich. The romantic piece made circa 1830 currently resides in The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Friedrich typically used his artwork as an avenue for venting, particularly about his frustrations regarding the Napoleonic Wars. Being a German artist active during the time of Napoleon's dictatorship, he had a lot of pride and nationalism to portray in his paintings. The two figures in Two Men Contemplating the Moon don old Germanic costumes that a rebel during the 19th century would wear. Such anti-Napoleonic clothing became illegal in Europe in 1819.

By having the two figures with their backs turned to the viewer, one can feel as if they're a part of the painting,  gazing off into the nostalgia of the sky. The asymmetric painting is consumed by gross and grown over tree branches, which represent Germany's unruly state during the Napoleonic Wars. Friedrich painted three versions of this work, all very similar looking but portraying the same emotion of looking towards the hopefulness of the moon and basking in the nostalgia of a better time.


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