Solemn magnificence and perfect solitude made Caspar David Friedrich’s painting of the Watzmann the epitome of Romantic depiction of mountains. Brought close to the viewer as if through a telescope, the summit of the Watzmann seems in its shining, almost glass-like clarity to be in immediate reach, apparently near enough to touch and at the same time distant, like a symbol of divine majesty. In compositional terms the bright mountain grows out of a single, highly variegated motion. Its pyramidal form culminates in the radiant whiteness of ice, a visual concept that Friedrich had already evolved a year previously in his famous painting Sea of Ice: The Wreck of Hope (Hamburger Kunsthalle). Friedrich put The Watzmann on show in 1825 at the Dresden Art Exhibition, probably in reaction to a major work under the same name by Ludwig Richter that was displayed there the year before, based on Josef Anton Koch’s famous Schmadribach Waterfall (Neue Pinakothek, Munich). Friedrich rejected Richter’s narrative approach: landscape painting had been “closer to its aims than it is at present … when piled-up objects, one next to the other, one behind the other and one above the other, overburden the picture, and I think are meant to lend opulence,” was one of his statements on art. Friedrich, who never travelled to the Alps, painted The Watzmann on the basis of a watercolor study by his pupil August Heinrich and his own sketches made on journeys through the Harz and Riesengebirge mountains. The motif of the rock formations in the foreground follows a drawing of the Trudenstein at the Hohnekopf near the Brocken mountain done on 28 June 1811. In 1820 Friedrich had already depicted the anvil-like rock on the right in his landscape of the Riesengebirge Landscape with Rising Fog (Neue Pinakothek, Munich). In 1824, a year before The Watzmann, Friedrich showed a view of Montblanc (formerly in the Nationalgalerie, lost in the war) with an almost identical format at the Dresden Academy Exhibition. As with The Watzmann, for this work he used drawings by a friend and pupil, in this case Carl Gustav Carus.