“Friedrich by no means belongs among the complete unknowns. […] To our astonishment, we perceive an artist who has much to say – and much that is exceptional. […] All of the conventions of earlier landscape painting […] vanish here.”, 1906

“Friedrich by no means belongs among the complete unknowns. […] But [his pictures] speak such a quiet language that the harried gallery public dashes past them heedlessly. Only now, when all of the familiar pictures are joined by unfamiliar ones from private collections does his speech come into its own, and to our astonishment, we perceive an artist who has much to say – and much that is exceptional. Admittedly, that which speaks to us is not exactly the same as what his contemporaries heard, namely the melancholic prevailing mood, the mythic thrill of mountaintop crosses, with aureoles of sunbeams playing around them, the sheer reveling in an inner emotional state […]. But for us, all of this Romanticism […] recedes before the new beauty of the landscape that is revealed here to the seeing eye. That which Philipp Otto Runge envisioned as the art of the future, the depiction of the landscape under the eternally changing play of light and atmosphere, appears now on German soil for the first time. All of the conventions of earlier landscape painting, which relied on an emphasis on unvarying natural forms, vanish here. Since the essential aspect now is the rendering of living atmospheres, of nature in a state of transformation through the seasons and times of day, entirely new motifs emerge into the realm of the representable – motifs that remain imperceptible to the formally schooled eye. The brown field above which the evening sun smolders; the deserted lowlands that get lost in the blue twilight of distant mountains; the wet meadows onto which clouds cast their shadows; the gently rolling hilly landscape, above which hangs the silvery fragrance of a pallid spring day; the shallow surges of the Bohemian mountains, between which morning fog billows: all of these are the contents of Friedrich’s pictures, in which we recognize the seed of a development that continues up to the present day. This seed is more timid in execution than in its subsequent impulsion. The paint is thin and almost tentative, lacking the full draught of life gained from the immediacy of direct observation. This becomes comprehensible once we learn that Friedrich never painted directly from nature, that he began with a precise preparatory drawing, and then applied his paint to the canvas from memory in slowly progressing, painstaking stages. In a painting by his friend Kersting, we see him in his studio, blond, blue-eyed, wearing a grey smock, felt slippers on his feet, leaning on the back of a chair and carefully examining a picture, which stands on an easel; meanwhile, hanging on the bare wall is a palette and a rule. One thinks of Manet’s painting ‘The Studio of Monet’ [=Monet Painting in His Studio Boat, 1874, Munich, Neue Pinakothek], which shows the artist, painting while seated, in harsh sunlight, protected by a makeshift canopy.
This dreamy tenderness, along with the refined powers of observation, is missing from the landscapes of Dahl […].” – Hugo von Tschudi, in exh. cat. Nationalgalerie, Berlin 1906, vol. 1, p. XXVIf.