PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR
inscribed and dated Abend October 1824 l.c.
Fig. 1; Caspar David Friedrich, Abend (Wolken), 1824, oil on board, 20 by 27.5 cm., Kunsthalle, Mannheim 260D06101
Fig. 2; Der Abendstern, 1830-35, oil on canvas, 32 by 45 cm., Freies Deutsches Hochstift, Frankfurt 256D06101
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)
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.
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