Alte Nationalgalerie

The Monk by the Sea is an oil painting by Casper David Fredrich. It was painted between 1808 and 1810 in Dresden. A figure stands next to a dark body of water running perpendicular to the figure. It is windy, the water is choppy and has white caps. The figure is wearing a long garment. He is standing on, what appears to be, sand dunes. The tops of each small hill is darker suggesting, perhaps, the beginning of rain. The sky is the top 80 percent of the painting and is thick with clouds. The sun cannot penetrate the dark clouds in the sky bringing a somber sad mood. The viewers eye is not lead through the piece thus accentuating the impenetrability of the sky. However at the very top of the piece there is a blue sky and the tops of the clouds are faintly illuminated suggesting there will be a change of weather.
Abbey among Oak Trees is a very somber piece. The trees are bare, indicating that it is wintertime. In addition to that, the moon is high, indicating both the season and how late in the day it is. Beyond the initial mood the painting sets, the eye immediately goes to the Abbey. Settles between Oak trees, the Abbey is in ruins. Having endured many winters, possible wars, the Abbey’s windows are in disrepair and the structure is in shambles. Despite the ruins though, you get a sense of grandeur from the Gothic ruins; the essence of how the building used to stand is strong. In the foreground, a procession of figures are visible taking a coffin into the ruined building. It stirs up strong emotions of death and sadness. Mortality and the human curse of time are very evident in this piece, from the bare trees, to the ruins, and the fact that the Abbey (in ruins) is still being used as a place of solace. Traditions lose their place in this piece. There is a strong sense of nature in the piece as well. The Oak Trees are huge and seem to have won their fight with man and the Abbey. I get a sense of God as nature in this piece, showing that the old Oaks who were present ages before the Abbey are still standing, resisting things as human as premature death. There are many things happening within this picture plane; there is human mortality/ time, a sense of natures burden to bear witness to human err, and there’s also the sky with a crescent moon demonstrating the vast unknown (perhaps God) as well as lending to the piece an idea of the vastness of space and how relative time can be.
Burg Scharfenberg At Night was painted by Ernst Ferdinand Oehme in 1827. This painting uses dark colors and light positioning to show it is a night scene. The moon is just out of the shot but its presence is obvious. The combination of wind in the trees, a lone rider galloping towards the castle, and lights on in some of the windows add to the mystery of the painting. The closer one looks the more details are revealed. There are some people in the lit windows, and down towards the right bottom corner of the paining there is a boat on the river and a town situated a small distance from the shore. The painting is full of details and mystery.
The Isle of the Dead is an oil on wood painting by Arnold Böcklin that was commissioned in 1883. The painting consists of radial symmetry. In the foreground there is a small boat in which two people, one sitting in black clothing and the other standing in a white hooded robe, about to come upon the "Isle." There are steps leading from beneath the sea and onto the Isle, which seems to be a large castle or similar structure that has been carved out of a giant marble monolith afloat in the sea. The steps welcome visitors to the isle and lead them into a cluster of tall evergreen trees that creat a dark void of seemingly endless depths. What lies within and beyond these trees is unknown but with a title such as "The Isle of the Dead" one can only imagine it might not be that nice in there. The painting cast a haunting and ominous picture that leaves the viewer in mystery.
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