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Romanticism in Eldena Ruin by Caspar David Friedrich

Caspar David Friedrich was one of the prominent painters who belonged to Romanticism. Thus, it is natural that his painting of Eldena Ruin reflects the aesthetics of this art movement. As it is well known, Romanticists were particularly interested in the role of Nature as a reflection of God. This is why the painting is so special for its contrasting of the monastery’s ruins and the landscape around it.

It is possible to speak about the contrast of the building and the trees that are nearby in terms of their symbolism. The season seems to be early autumn, the time of ripping the fruits and making conclusions. The monastery has been almost ruined, so the trees conquer more and more territory until they become one whole. Although the walls of the monastery are destroyed, there is no feeling of decay at all. On the contrary, the painting is full of harmony and serenity, making one think about the joys of the present day, which is part of a larger, eternal life.

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The painter demonstrates that humanity is temporary compared to the eternity of nature. Yet, it is nature that is able to cure and bring relief to people. There are two small human figures in the center, which symbolizes that they are integrated with the Universe too, and are also part of nature. The artist uses soft colors green, blue, yellow and white, which contribute to the atmosphere of warmness and quiet. Both the trees and the monastery are quite old and full of experience. They are silent but the painting creates the impression that they share their wisdom with humans, accepting them as their own children.

Feldman Method of Art Criticism in the Four Steps

Thus, the painting reflects the idea that God is present in material reality, and that Nature is a means through which he presents himself to humans.

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