Caspar David Friedrich – The Monk by the Sea (1808 – 1810)

“I am not so weak as to submit to the demands of the age when they go against my convictions,” a defiant Caspar David Friedrich declared as his art and the Romantic ideals of the early nineteenth century were falling out of favor towards the end of his life. “I spin a cocoon around myself;…

Henry Fuseli and the Nightmare of Unrequited Love

I have long stared at the question of unrequited love and what makes this particular type of love so painful and obsessive. I started drafts. I discarded them. I came back to this question and gave it another go only to find my writing out of touch. The truth is I do not know much…

Johan Christian Dahl – View of Dresden by Moonlight (1839)

“Why has looking at the moon become so beneficiary, so soothing and so sublime?”, asked German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer in 1840. “Because the moon remains purely an object for contemplation, not of the will. […] Furthermore, the moon is sublime, and moves us sublimely because it stays aloof from all our earthly activities, it sees…

Gustave Courbet – The Desperate Man (1844 – 1845)

Ah, l’enfant terrible of art. The rebel, the radical, the nonconformist. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the French realist painter Gustave Courbet. It wasn’t just his art that brought him notoriety, but also his ostentatious je m’en fous (I don’t give a damn) attitude. See, it’s difficult to write about him without turning…

Orest Kiprensky – Self-portrait with Brushes Behind the Ear (1808)

A worthy representative of the art movement Romanticism, Orest Kiprensky (1782 – 1836) was a Russian portraitist, most famous for his 1827 painting of Alexander Pushkin. As a testament to Kiprensky’s skill, upon its completion, Pushkin, the great Russian poet, is alleged to have said “the mirror flatters me”. Kiprensky completed several self-portraits during his…

Eugène Delacroix – Liberty Leading the People (1830)

“If you are not skillful enough to sketch a man jumping out of a window in the time it takes him to fall from the fourth storey to the ground, you will never be able to produce great works”, that was the creed of Eugène Delacroix (1798 – 1863), the leader of the French Romanticism….