Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog

WHO WAS caspar david friedrich?

Friedrich's artworks influenced many other art styles like Surrealism, Symbolism, and Abstract Expressionism. He was also admired by Adolf Hitler.

historical overview

Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog was painted during the early 1800s, at a time in Europe when Romanticism was a prevailing style in arts and culture, ranging from literature, visual arts, and music.


Its date points to pertinent periods in history that influenced its meaning, such as the Napoleonic Wars, the impacts of the French insurgency in Germany, and the socio-political aspects that ensued as a result of these.


In the first third and foreground of the painting, we see a solitary figure standing on the edge of a protruding rock formation. Friedrich reportedly depicted the Elbe Sandstone Mountain region.


Friedrich utilized whites, pinks, and blues for the sky above and darker colors for the rocks in the foreground as well as dark green for the man’s coat.


The work is filled with a texture that sets this landscape scene. The best examples include the way Friedrich painted the mist and clouds, which appear like white wisps throughout the upper two-thirds of the composition.

line, form, and shape

There is a focus on vertical lines, notably the figure standing upright and looking out over the horizon. This is a clear shape in our view compared to the other shapes in the distance formed by the fog and mountains.


Friedrich depicted a vast landscape, achieved through highlighting, contrasting, and converging colors, textures, and various lines and shapes. These all create the illusion of three-dimensional landscape space, or depth, we see in front of us.

in the presence of greatness

The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog is over 200 years old, still impacting modern-day viewers, reminding us of age-old truths that seemingly go beyond being human.  Even in our contemporary times, this painting has made its way into popular culture, inspiring film posters, adorning book covers, and becoming a popular motif on items like T-shirts.