Jun 9, 2006

The Woman with the Spider Web between Bare Trees

The Woman with the Spider Web between Bare Trees


Caspar David Friedrich

(German, 1774–1840)


John L. Severance Fund 1995.68

Catalogue raisonné: Börsch-Supan/Jähnig 60



For Friedrich, landscape was the expression of spirituality and a personal connection with God. By isolating individual objects in this composition and rendering them in specific detail, such as the tree, spider web, and thistles, Friedrich gave them a heightened clarity that destabilizes the familiar and suggests a hidden, sacred significance within organic forms. The viewer’s dilemma—deciding upon the meaning and significance of the scene—is echoed by the woman herself who gazes toward the evening sky. Her pose and gesture suggest a searching awareness that evokes melancholy and suspended resolution. Surrounding her are symbols of mortality in the barren trees, thistles, a caught fly, and the setting sun. In this woodcut, Friedrich depicted for one of the first times a theme that became a leitmotif, what art historians have called "the drama of the self facing the universe."

See also
PR - Woodcut
Type of artwork: 

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