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Newly installed in the Museum’s Romanticism gallery is Sunburst in the Riesengebirge, a recently acquired landscape painting by the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840). While the painting may be unassuming in scale, it is yet rich in the allegorical imagery that characterizes much of the artist’s work. Friedrich was the leading German painter of the first half of the 19th century and one of the leading figures of European Romanticism.

For Friedrich, nature was not simply a background to human activity but instead a site for deep spiritual and emotional engagement. “Sunburst in the Riesengebirge is a beautiful representation of light, and sums up Friedrich’s approach to landscape as symbolic of the wider themes of life, death and the promise of eternity,” said Simon Kelly, curator of modern and contemporary art.

Sunburst in the Riesengebirge complements the Museum’s exceptional collection of German painting and sculpture of the 20th and 21st centuries, such as masterworks of German Expressionism, the world’s largest collection of paintings by Max Beckmann, and seminal works by postwar artists, including Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Sigmar Polke, and Gerhard Richter. Rarely seen in the United States, Friedrich paintings are largely located in German public collections. A small number are owned by American museums including the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth.

Sunburst in the Riesengebirge is now on view in Gallery 205.

Caspar David Friedrich, German, 1774–1840; Sunburst in the Riesengebirge, 1835; oil on canvas; 10 x 12 1/2 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Friends Fund, Museum Purchase, Director's Discretionary Fund, and the Ann Goddard Trust 1:2019

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