Lot 17
  • 17

Caspar David Friedrich German, 1774-1840

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  • Caspar David Friedrich
  • Abend (Sonnenuntergang hinter der Dresdener Hofkirche) (Evening: Sunset behind Dresden's Hofkirche)
  • inscribed and dated Abend October 1824 l.c.

  • oil on canvas


Galerie Cassirer, Berlin
Galerie Arnold, Dresden, (by 1926)
Kunsthandlung Kühl, Dresden
Ernst Henke collection, Essen, (by 1931); thence by descent in the family to the present owner


Dresden, Galerie Arnold, Deutsche Malerei von 1810-1925, 1926
Hamburg, Kunsthalle, Caspar David Friedrich, 1974, no. 177 
Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Der Blick auf Dresden. Die Frauenkirche und das Werden der Dresdner Stadtsilhouette, 2005-06, no. 67 (illustrated in colour in the catalogue)


Kunst und Künstler, no. 24, 1926, pp. 162 & 165, illustrated
H. Köhn, 'Deutsche Romantik im Folkwang-Museum', Pantheon 7, 1931, p. 112, mentioned
Paul Ortwin Rave, Deutsche Landschaft in fünf Jahrhunderten, Berlin, 1938, pl. 125, illustrated
Kurt Karl Eberlein, Caspar David Friedrich, der Landschaftsmaler. Ein Volksbuch deutscher Kunst, Leipzig, 1940, fig. 71
Charlotte Margarethe de Prybram-Gladona, Caspar David Friedrich, Paris, 1942, p. 80
Helmut Börsch-Supan, Die Bildgestaltung bei Caspar David Friedrich, Munich, 1960 (Diss. Berlin 1958), p. 62 (for a discussion of the influence of Dahl)
Werner Sumowski, Caspar David Friedrich - Studien, Wiesbaden, 1970, pp. 69, 85, 174, 239, discussed
Helmut Börsch-Supan, Karl Wilhelm Jähnig, Caspar David Friedrich. Gemälde, Druckgraphik und bildmäßige Zeichnungen, Munich, 1973, pp. 33 & 36, catalogued and illustrated, p. 393, no. 320, mentioned

Catalogue Note

Abend is one of three small oils of the Dresden skyline Friedrich painted in or around 1824 (see also Börsch-Supan & Jähnig, nos. 321 and 322). Here, the view is from the east, the spires of the Hofkirche (in the centre) and the Schloss silhouetted against the setting sun. Executed with remarkable spontaneity and free brushstrokes, the present work has many of the qualities of a sketch made from nature, the sky in particular appearing to be based on a cloud study Friedrich made the same year (fig. 1). At the same time, the fullness of the composition anticipates larger more finished paintings such as The Evening Star (fig. 2). As such, Helmut Börsch-Supan considers Abend unique in Friedrich's oeuvre as being between a sketch and a finished painting. 

Dresden was a favourite subject among the German Romantics and Friedrich's circle in particular. His friends Carl Gustav Carus and Johan Christian Dahl both painted the city's skyline and environs, but more so than his contemporaries, Friedrich typically imbued his views with symbolic meaning. Here, the spires, religious symbols in themselves, assume the stature of mediators between the earthly and the sublime, while the beautiful cloud formations might be seen as the harbingers of divine hope. The sunset itself (as well as the title of the work) signifies a moment of transition, not only from day to night, but from one world to the heavenly home which lies beyond.