In 1822 the art patron and collector, Heinrich Wagener, commissioned a “times of day” diptych from Friedrich. The morning picture became The Solitary Tree. A grassy landscape with groups of trees, ponds, and villages extends to the foothills of the mountains behind the spires of a Gothic town. One mighty oak stands like a statue in the middle of the composition. A shepherd shelters beneath it. Its great trunk has withstood wind and weather, but the tips of the branches of this giant tree have already died off. Above the tree, the clouds form of a kind of cupola. Transgressing against the classical laws of composition, Friedrich cuts through all the various levels of the picture with the tree as the central foreground axis. And thus, at a stroke the oak tree takes on the role of mediator between heaven and earth, between the transcendental and the mundane. As an image of nature, it embodies natural strength and the life force, while at the same time the with-ered branches point to a life beyond this one.