The Sea of Ice – (Caspar David Friedrich) Previous Next


Artists:

Style: Romanticism

Topics: Beach

Date: 1800

Size: 97 x 127 cm

Museum: Kunsthalle (Hamburg, Germany)

Technique: Oil On Canvas

The Sea of Ice (German: Das Eismeer), also called The Wreck of Hope (German: Die gescheiterte Hoffnung) is an oil painting of 1823–1824 by the German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich.
The landscape depicts a shipwreck in the middle of a broken ice-sheet, whose shards have piled up after the impact. The ice has become like a monolithic tomb, or dolmen, whose edges jut into the sky. The stern of the wreck is just visible on the right. As an inscription on it confirms, this is HMS Griper, one of two ships that took part in William Edward Parry's 1819–1820 and 1824 expeditions to the North Pole.
The two titles originally referred to the present work and another older work by Friedrich, now missing. The lost painting was shown in 1822 at the Dresden Academy exhibition under the title A Wrecked Ship off the Coast of Greenland in the Moonlight. Own Invention. The present painting was first shown in 1824 at the Prague Academy exhibition under the title An Idealized Scene of an Arctic Sea, with a Wrecked Ship on the Heaped Masses of Ice.
In Friedrich's estate this work was described as Ice Picture. The Disaster-stricken North Pole Expedition. The collector Johann Gottlob von Quandt commissioned two pictures that were to symbolize the south and the north. Johann Martin von Rohden received the commission to paintSouthern Nature in her Abundant and Majestic Splendor, while the commission for Northern Nature in the whole of her Terrifying Beauty fell to Friedrich. However, as Schukowski in a letter dated 1821 reported, Friedrich - himself does not even know what he will paint; he waits for the moment of inspiration, which (in his own words) occasionally comes in a dream.
Accounts of expeditions to the North Pole were occasionally published during those years which is likely how Friedrich became familiar with William Edward Parry's 1819–1820 expedition to find the Northwest Passage. In the winter of 1820–21, Friedrich made extensive oil studies of ice floes on the river Elbe, near Dresden. These were probably incorporated into The Sea of Ice.

This artwork is in the public domain.

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Caspar David Friedrich

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