Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Bisanz, Rudolf M.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Art


Friedrich; Casper David; 1774-1840--Portraits; Symbolism in art--Germany; Eschatology; Romanticism in art--Germany--History--19th century; Mysticism and art--Germany


The visual imagery in the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich is described by scholars as a revolution in visual form and the forerunner of modern abstract art. Friedrich’s synthetic composition of linear and aerial perspective and unnatural light anticipated the use of linear perspective and color by modern art. Influential upon Friedrich’s art, and representative of early Germanic Romanticism, were the influences of spiritual mysticism and eschatological symbolism reflected in forms of nature worship. These influences sparked a new interest in the use of naturalism to capture atmospheric effects. The wish to comprehend the natural affects of nature reflects the early romantics’ concern with the process and creation of universal laws. My initial objective is to concentrate on the development of visual theory and form in the art of the German Romantic artists, Philipp Otto Runge, 1777-1810, and Caspar David Friedrich, 1774-1840, with the hope of gaining a better understanding of Friedrich’s silent and motionless expressions of spiritual isolation. Evolving from naturalism, historicism and eschatological ideas, those feelings are directly related to diverse strands of New Testament mysticism which can be demonstrated through the method of Kunstaeschichte als Geistesaeschichte. Since the word mysticism is often associated with occult connotations, it is my belief that the term mysticism, with regards to the early German Romantics, did not concern itself with Occultism. The branch of Mysticism associated with the ABSTRACT early German Romantics is more closely related to a contemplative state that went beyond ordinary perceptions, mental images, and thoughts. In such a state, the world is identical with God or a supernatural force. In this sense, the Mysticism of the early German Romantics was concerned with the origins of a divine source and with salvation. The initial perception of a divine source is often directly related to revelatory experiences described as Mystical. In many instances, for the early German Romantics, the notion of Mysticism verges on Pantheism and Pietism. Because this thesis is concerned with eschatological symbolism that relied upon Biblical symbolism, Mysticism is defined as the belief that the human spirit is capable of a direct and intimate consciousness of the presence of a divine reality permeating the world.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [68]-70)


viii, 113 pages




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