Redemption of man

By: Louk Vreeswijk

Apr 14 2013

Tags: ,

Category: Europe, Switzerland


or the cross in the mountains

If God is in the detail (“Der liebe Gott steckt im Detail”, Aby Warburg), then he is more present in the fly on the cross than in the man who’s nailed to it.

I, at least, have always marvelled at the fly that is taking a rest on the side of this weather-beaten, wooden cross that I once saw during a trek in the Swiss Alps.

The Cross in the Mountains is actually the title of a very original altar piece by Caspar David Friedrich (Tetschen Altar, 1808). I call it original, since it depicts a landscape with a cross at an angle, slightly from behind and not seen in frontal view. Because of this, the landscape is more prominent than the cross, which is indeed a highly original choice for an altar piece. It seems to invite the worship of nature, more than the worship of Christ, or at best the worship of God as part of nature. In his painting, in fact, Friedrich certainly intended to express the Redemption of man: the granting of eternal life, symbolized by the evergreen trees, through the death (and resurrection) of Christ.

Little wayside chapels and crosses are not uncommon in many parts of Europe, even high up in the mountains. Old and forgotten, they can be nice elements in a landscape, inviting walker or wanderer to a moment of repose. And for the believer they are a reminder of the consolation that not all was lost after the Fall of man.

Photo of the week: Arête de Berroi, near Barme, with “Les Dents du Midi” in the background, Switzerland, 2000

2 comments on “Redemption of man”

  1. This is so beautiful… the cross amidst the mountains must actually be a very calming feeling maybe seeing it after along trek..your photos are magic


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