Zwei Männer in Rückenansicht, die in einer Naturlandschaft den Mond betrachten

Focus Albertinum: Moonstruck – Two Hundred Years Two Men Contemplating the Moon

Two Hundred Years Two Men Contemplating the Moon

One of the most famous paintings from the Albertinum’s collection will be two hundred years old in 2019: "Two Men Contemplating the Moon" by Caspar David Friedrich. On this occasion the museum brings together 15 of the most beautiful moonlight landscapes from its collection in one exhibition space. Among these are masterpieces like "View of Dresden at Full Moon" by Johan Christian Dahl and "Crossing at the Schreckenstein" by Ludwig Richter.

  • DATES 26/06/2019—27/09/2020

[Translate to English:] info

The six paintings by Carl Gustav Carus in the exhibition prove him a passionate moonwatcher. Moonlight landscapes by Ernst Ferdinand Oehme and Christian Friedrich Gille demonstrate the centrality of this subject in Dresden during the romantic period.

“Two Men Contemplating the Moon” is a key work in the Caspar David Friedrich’s oeuvre. The moon appears as a vanishing point of dreamy oblivion, while the painting simultaneously turns against the conservative forces of the period.

Zwei Männer in Rückenansicht, die in einer Naturlandschaft den Mond betrachten
Caspar David Friedrich, Zwei Männer in Betrachtung des Mondes, 1819/20 Öl auf Leinwand, 35 x 44,5 cm, Albertinum | Galerie Neue Meister

[Translate to English:] Als der Maler Peter Cornelius

The painter Peter Cornelius and the poet Carl Förster saw the landscape depicting the two wanderers when they visited Friedrich in his studio in April 1820. Friedrich ironically remarked that if people shifted to another world after death, he would certainly end up "on the moon" because he painted so much moonlight. Regarding the two men in their traditional German costume, he remarked: “they’re making demagogic machinations.”  He was referring here to the liberal aspirations in Germany, which had been severely curtailed after the Carlsbad Resolutions in 1819.

[Translate to English:] Impressionen

[Translate to English:] Die Sehnsucht nach dem Mond

The yearning for the moon is one of the central motifs of romantic landscape painting. It is regarded as a tranquil yet distant friend, to whom one entrusts their innermost wishes in the loneliness of the night. One seeks a faithful companion in the moon, and yet it is constantly in flux—at times a narrow sickle and other times round and full. Its light bathes the world in a mysterious splendor, its pale and subdued light was particularly attractive to the painters of Romanticism.

[Translate to English:] Zitat

What evenings did I not spend with my fantasies when fog over the Elbe dawned and the moon rose over the distant wooded hills, which dreams did not come to me, when I strolled over the entwined debris beneath the old linden trees at the Zwinger Palace and how peculiar did the Catholic church not often seem with its beautiful music and its mystical customs to my mind!


Carl Gustav Carus, Lebenserinnerungen, 1865



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