Wanderer above the Sea of Fog

This is the painting I use as my header image on lots of things. It is Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer) by the German romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774 – 1840). It is something of an icon for Romanticism.

Caspar David Friedrich, like the romantic poets of the day, was interested in the artist’s emotional response to the sublime and beautiful natural world. In this painting, I like the way he shows his back to the viewer so the focus is on the wilderness his contemplation of it. It’s a reverse ‘selfie’, instead of saying ‘look at me’ it says, ‘look with me’.

Applying the idea to more mundane professional life, what is most important is not the individual but the subject matter of their profession. Caspar David Friedrich was concerned with awe-inspiring beauty but even in the more modest concerns of everyday professional life, focusing on the issue at hand and spending time contemplating options before making judgements. Conservation reports can be too quickly drafted with little contemplation, original research or critical thought as to the true significance of the heritage asset or the right way to conserve it.

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