Vol. 29 No. 1 (2021):
Articles

Peindre le silence. Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)

Michael Kohlhauer
Université de Savoie Mont Blanc

Published 06/30/2021

Keywords

  • inner self,
  • landscape,
  • painting,
  • romanticism,
  • silence

How to Cite

Kohlhauer, M. (2021). Peindre le silence. Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840). L’Analisi Linguistica E Letteraria, 29(1), 43–58. Retrieved from https://www.analisilinguisticaeletteraria.eu/index.php/ojs/article/view/162

Abstract

« Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840). The art of silence ». Mainly dedicated to Friedrich’s landscape-painting, the study tries to elucidate a living paradox : the painter’s (and musician’s) own difficulty, if not impossibility, to represent silence without or beyond words. The question is : how does the painter Friedrich (he has been called « the painter of silence », « Maler der Stille ») proceed to create the impression or, better said, the presence of silence ? Among all the figures used by Friedrich, the following proved to be decisive in creating the presence of silence : firstly, the setting of a virgin, ‘desocialized’ landscape, the recurrent use of the still life (Stillleben) and synaesthesia, so as to concentrate on the existential drama of man facing the empty, void nature ; further, the eccentric, marginal position of mostly separate, lonely persons relegated in their inner isolation to the edges of the natural scenery, as if excluded from the world ; last but not least, the famous ‘back-of-the-head’ view, by which the main protagonist appears to be lost in silent contemplation and reflection : a both internal and external focalization, it opens up the painter’s and spectator’s consciousness, in search for a place – a sense in life. In reinventing the silent landscape, Friedrich struggled to depict what is most elusive in the human living : the crucial experience of silence, as a possible access to the inner self and to the world.