How to Read Paintings: The Abbey in the Oakwood by Caspar David Friedrich

A brooding masterpiece that explores the mystery of mankind’s position in the landscape

The Abbey in the Oakwood (1809–10) by Caspar David Friedrich. Oil on canvas. 171 x 110.4cm. Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin. Image source Wikimedia Commons

It can take a few moments for your eyes to adjust to the crepuscular light of this intriguing painting. The lustrous band of yellow that billows across the canvas tends to draw the eye upwards…