The German Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781 – 1841) is much better known as an architect, since throughout his life he designed and projected some of the buildings most charismatic of Berlin, such as its National Theater or the impressive Old Museum located in what is known as the Museum Islandin the bed of the river Spree.
Gothic Cathedral by the Schinkel Seaside
However,Schinkelthroughout his life he practiced painting. And in fact, it is always said that he was one of his architecture, you can see his paintings and there are always architectures in his paintings. And a good example is this canvas from 1815, Gothic Cathedral on the Seashore, which curiously today is preserved inside the same museum that he built.
Paradoxically the architecture of K. F. Schinkel is part of the neoclassical movement, as is usual among German academic art, more inspired by theAncient Greece than in Imperial Rome. But on the other hand, in his paintings, and not only in the one we show you here, we see an artist that we could consider neo-Gothic, to which the form of the imaginary temple that he portrays makes an immediate allusion.
And it is clear that the Neo-Gothic is more linked to certain ideals of Romanticism. The Gothic style is understood as a representationsymbolic of reaching the sky. Its vertical forms are used as an allegory of a search for ideals of beauty and perfection. And the truth is that this Schinkel canvas is basing itself on this idea, since it wants to materialize and concretize a sensation of perfect harmony, achieved through the mediation of that architecture that unites heaven and earth.
On the other hand, it must be taken into account that in Germany the neo-gothic also had a nationalist content. While German neoclassical architecture fled from the models of Rome because they could be linked to French academic art, in the case ofNeo-Gothic painting can also be understood with that key, and it must not be forgotten that part of the German territory had been occupied by the Napoleonic France, in addition to that Gothic art was considered to be of German origin (somewhat debatable, but they thought so).
In other words, with this painting, Schinkel was posing a dreamlike image, of a Prussia free after the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, the same one who had invaded the country and had brought to Paris works of art such as the chariot on the top of the Brandenburg Gate.