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Work Seashore by Moonlight

Department of Paintings: German painting

Seashore by Moonlight

© Musée du Louvre/A. Dequier - M. Bard

German painting



Friedrich and German Romanticism

The painting shows a scene frequently encountered in the work of this painter, and is typical of German Romantic landscape painting. The composition is marked by simple forms and a strong coherence due to the diffuse light. The different vertical and horizontal shapes balance each other and create an atmosphere of serenity and meditation. The range of colors is limited, but treated with great subtlety.

A landscape with a religious message

The landscape communicates an authentic religious message to which each element of the composition contributes. The different naturalistic motifs painted by Friedrich are the symbols of a divine revelation. Man, facing nature, thus finds himself confronted with his condition and his destiny.

Nature, a reflection of the human condition

The foreground, which is darker than the background, features the earthly world. The fishing lines and the posts provide evidence of human toil. An almost supernatural light from above contrasts with this somber zone, and gives it an other-worldly feeling. The human condition is  represented by the fragile outlines of the fishing boats returning to port, racked by the wind and lost in the immensity of the horizon. Death is also present in the image of the stranded boat. Like an interloping ghost, it gives to the work its true depth in recalling dolefully an always imminent death. Finally, the moon whose light dominates the composition symbolizes Christ the savior of humanity, victorious over death.

Technical description

  • Caspar David FRIEDRICH (Greifswald, 1774 - Dresden, 1840)

    Seashore by Moonlight


  • H. 0.22 m; W. 0.30 m

  • Gift of the Société des Amis du Louvre in 2000 , 2000

    R.F. 2000-3

  • Paintings

    Richelieu wing
    2nd floor
    Germany and Russia, first half of the 19th century
    Room 863

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