Few artists have been able to capture better than Gaspar Friedrich the feeling of romantic painting than this artist of German origin. Friedrich puts the natures before the characters in his compositions, thus demonstrating the insignificance of man in the world that surrounds him; his works are the response of his feelings to the existence of man in such a way that the artist carries out a personal painting that reflects his own concerns
On this occasion the artist presents us with two works that, according to art historians, Friedrich would pose as a couple within the same composition: Abbey in the Oak Forest and Monk on the Seashore. The artist had already revolutionized the artistic panorama of his time when he presented works such as Fog on the Mountain, at the Berlin Academy Hall in 1810 the artist once again transgressed the limits of art. Both canvases provoked great criticism among connoisseurs but, at the same time, they drew powerful attention and made Friedrich one of the artistic figures of the moment who was admired and hated in equal measure. King Frederick William IV of Prussia took possession of both works, and both are now on display at the Old Art Gallery in Berlin.
Both paintings are made in oil on canvas, with a horizontal format and measures around one hundred and seventy centimeters widewidth and little more than meter ten of height. In the Abbey in a Holm Oak, the artist presents us with the remains of a Gothic-style construction that emerge among the trunks and branches of bare Holm oaks. It seems that the artist may have been inspired by the remains of the Eldena Abbey in the Pomerania region. Completing the scene are some small tombstones in front of the abbey gate and tiny characters making their way to them in a kind of silent procession. The size of these characters - who appear to be monks - is so small that they are nothing more than small blackish spots without any detail or characterization. Some authors establish a comparison between the work of Friedrich and the poem of a contemporary writer so that the work would represent the transit between the natural region and the Christian.
For his part The Monk in Front of the Seashore is a canvas in which the artist takes the landscape to its ultimate consequences; it's about a marine scene that swallows everything, the character is hardly a pretext in the composition. On a kind of beach or sandy area, the artist presents us with the figure of a monk located on the seashore. A sea that is dark and blackish, that evokes the immensity but also the unknown. The sky, for its part, is the protagonist of the composition, occupying almost the entire canvas; dark clouds crowd the horizon line becoming lighter and lighter asascend towards the light in a subtle metaphor.