Rückenfigur

“I have to stay alone in order to fully contemplate and feel nature. The painter should paint not only what he has in front of him, but also what he sees inside himself.” —Caspar David Friedrich

The term Rückenfigur comes from the German Romanticism movement which took place in the late 18th to early 19th century. Caspar David Friedrich famously used Rückenfigur in his paintings:

 

Rückenfigur involves the view of the back of a person- this means that we, the viewer, see what the person depicted sees. We experience what they are and we almost become them, in a way we become more connected to the person. Although, it can also have the opposite effect of feeling like the person is turning away from us and there is a distance. There is a melancholic atmosphere that is created with rückenfigur, and a pensive, intriguing aspect to it.

Elizabeth Prettejohn wrote:

Unlike more traditional representations of landscape, this painting does not pretend to present us with a natural scene as it exists in its own right, but makes us conscious instead that we are seeing a human perception of nature.

 

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