The Stages of Life, c.1835 (oil on canvas), Friedrich, Caspar David (1774-1840) / Museum der Bildenden Kunste, Leipzig, Germany / The Bridgeman Art Library
Germany’s best-known Gothic Romantic Caspar David Friedrich’s seems to paint from inside himself as well as what he sees before him. Born in Swedish Pomerania, his brooding, Bronte-esque cosmic musings were viewed as a shocking breakthrough, bordering on expressionistic confrontation. His work mixes the influences of Germanic classical music, literature and nature, as well as politics and religion. Friedrich’s art was often purchased by Prussian and Russian royalty. Its wistful sense of adventure and youthful idealism remain contemporarily relevant today.