The Met Announces First Major Retrospective in the United States Dedicated to Caspar David Friedrich

The Met

Caspar David Friedrich (German, 1774–1840). Two Men Contemplating the Moon, ca. 1825–30
Caspar David Friedrich (German, 1774–1840). Two Men Contemplating the Moon, ca. 1825–30. Oil on canvas. 13 3/4 x 17 1/4 in. (34.9 x 43.8 cm).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wrightsman Fund, 2000 (2000.51)

Exhibition Dates: February 8–May 11, 2025
Location: The Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 199

Inspired by the 250th anniversary of Friedrich’s birth, this major international loan exhibition will feature more than 75 works highlighting the German Romantic artist’s exploration of the natural world

From February 8 through May 11, 2025, The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present Caspar David Friedrich: The Soul of Nature, the first comprehensive exhibition in the United States dedicated to the most important exponent of German Romantic art. Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840) reimagined European landscape painting by portraying nature as a setting for profound spiritual and emotional encounters. Working in the vanguard of the German Romantic movement, which championed a radical new understanding of the bond between nature and the inner self, Friedrich developed pictorial subjects and strategies that emphasize the individuality, intimacy, open-endedness, and complexity of our responses to the natural world. The vision of the landscape that unfolds in his art—meditative, mysterious, and full of wonder—is still vital today. 

The exhibition is made possible in part by Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne, Barbara A. Wolfe, and Trevor and Alexis Traina.

“The most significant painter of German Romanticism, Caspar David Friedrich brilliantly illuminates our understanding of the natural world as a spiritual and emotional landscape,” said Max Hollein, The Met’s Marina Kellen French Director and Chief Executive Officer. “This very first major retrospective of Germany’s most beloved painter in the United States follows the celebrations of his work on the occasion of the artist’s 250th birthday this year. We are thrilled to collaborate with our German museum colleagues and many other generous lenders on this rare opportunity to reflect on Friedrich’s portrayals of nature and the human condition.”

Inspired by the 250th anniversary of Friedrich’s birth, the exhibition is organized in cooperation with the Alte Nationalgalerie of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, and the Hamburger Kunsthalle, which are presenting independent exhibitions of Friedrich’s work in 2023–24 as part of the artist’s jubilee celebrations in Germany. Following these shows, The Met’s exhibition will feature unprecedented loans from all three institutions—the most substantial collections of Friedrich’s work in the world—and from more than 30 other public and private lenders in Europe and North America. Despite Friedrich’s celebrated reputation, there have been only two exhibitions dedicated to his work in the United States: The Romantic Vision of Caspar David Friedrich: Paintings and Drawings from the U.S.S.R., held at The Met and the Art Institute of Chicago in 1990–91 and featuring 9 paintings and 11 drawings by Friedrich; and Caspar David Friedrich: Moonwatchers at The Met in 2001, which included 7 paintings and 2 drawings by the artist.

Caspar David Friedrich: The Soul of Nature will present approximately 75 oil paintings, finished drawings, and working sketches from every phase of the artist’s career, along with select examples by his contemporaries, illuminating Friedrich’s development of a symbolic vocabulary of landscape motifs to convey the personal and existential meanings that he discovered in nature. Among the loans that will be exhibited for the first time in the United States are Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (Hamburger Kunsthalle) and Monk by the Sea (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Alte Nationalgalerie), two of the most iconic paintings in Friedrich’s oeuvre and in all of Romantic art. Many other signature works, such as Dolmen in Autumn (Albertinum, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden), have not been seen in the United States for decades. The exhibition will also bring together for the first time all five of the Friedrich paintings owned by museums in the United States (The Met, the Kimbell Art Museum, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the National Gallery of Art, and the Saint Louis Art Museum), placing these rare American holdings in the broader context of Friedrich’s art. A rich selection of works on paper from both domestic and international collections will showcase Friedrich’s talents as a draftsman and the centrality of drawing to his creative practice, an aspect of his production that is unfamiliar to most museum audiences in the United States. As a partnership between specialists in paintings and drawings, the exhibition will also consider the ways that the artist’s pictorial interests persisted and shifted across media and how different materials and techniques prompted his formal and thematic innovations.

The exhibition will unfold chronologically and thematically, tracing the evolution of Friedrich’s imagery over the course of his four-decade career. Each section will highlight aspects of his engagement with the landscape of northeastern Europe and examine the unconventional pictorial tactics that give Friedrich’s subjects their visual drama and depth of meaning. Groupings of works will invite viewers to consider the range of themes that Friedrich explored: religious faith; solitude and companionship; the passage of time and human mortality; the perception of the ineffable and transcendent; concepts of nationhood rooted in the land; the security of the familiar versus the appeal of the unknown; and, most broadly, ways of seeing and relating to nature. As a whole, the exhibition will distill Friedrich’s unique vision of nature and situate his art within the tumultuous politics and vibrant culture of 19th-century German society, illuminating the role of German Romanticism in shaping modern perceptions of the natural world. 

Credits and Related Content

Caspar David Friedrich: The Soul of Nature is co-curated by Alison Hokanson (Associate Curator, Department of European Paintings, The Met), and Joanna Sheers Seidenstein (Assistant Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, The Met).

The Met will host a variety of exhibition-related educational and public programs, to be announced at a later date.

A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition. It will feature essays by Dr. Hokanson and Dr. Seidenstein; Professor Joseph Leo Koerner, Harvard University; and Professor Cordula Grewe, Indiana University; in addition to contributions from other international scholars. Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press, it will be available for purchase from The Met Store.   

The catalogue is made possible in part by Elizabeth Marsteller Gordon.



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