Johann Christian Dahl (1788–1857) View of Dresden by5/1/2021, 6:31:01 PM
Johann Christian Dahl (1788–1857) View of Dresden by Moonlight (detail), 1839, oil on canvasDimensionsHeight: 78 x 130 cm, Galerie Neue Meister - Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, Germany Johann Christian Dahl was a Norwegian-born artist who spent a large part of his life in Germany – Dresden, in particular – where he befriended the well-renowned painter Caspar David Friedrich. Friedrich, fourteen years Dahl’s senior, influenced the latter’s art, although differences still remained. Dahl embraced moonlight as a motif to convey serenity and peace in some of his most iconic paintings. 'View of Dresden by Moonlight' depicts a nighttime city scene, with the glossy and shimmering Elbe River and a largely overcast sky dominating much of the composition. In the background, we can see the Augustus Bridge and the silhouette of the Baroque Dresden Frauenkirche dome. The moon, piercing through the clouds, offers a fairytale glow to the whole view. Dahl’s painting is lively and integrated; nature and people coexist harmoniously. What could have been a meditation on loneliness and disconnection, or even an homage to the otherworldly, becomes a comforting reassurance that one is not alone, thanks to all the subtle signs of human activity that the Norwegian included. There are carriages and people on the bridge, small fires lit on boats, women doing laundry and men tending their horses. The woman in the foreground, looking at the river in front of her, has a small dog as companion. The serene beauty of the night acts like the common thread bringing together all these different elements. Awash in moonlight, Dresden appears truly magical and comforting.