For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for The Tree of Crows.

The Tree of Crows

The Tree of Crows
German: Krähenbaum
ArtistCaspar David Friedrich
Yearc. 1822
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions59.0 cm × 73.0 cm (23.23 in × 28.74 in)
LocationMusée du Louvre, Paris

The Tree of Crows (also known as Raven Tree) is an oil painting of 1822 by the German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich. Acquired by the Musée du Louvre in 1975 (the institution's first acquisition of a work by the artist, followed by Seaside by Moonlight in 2000), it has been called one of Friedrich's "most compelling paintings."[1] The painting depicts a twisted oak tree, bare but for a few dead leaves, seen against an evening sky. An inscription on the back of the canvas refers to the hill at the painting's center as a Hünengrab, or dolmen, a prehistoric burial ground.[2][3] In the distance can be seen the ocean, and Cape Arkona's chalk cliffs, a favorite subject of Friedrich's.[2] Two crows are perched on the oak, while a flock (also known, more correctly, as a "murder") descends toward it. In the darkened foreground are a hacked trunk and the upright stump of another oak.

The oak is based on a drawing dated 3 May 1809, to which Friedrich added branches at the left and elongated others so as to stretch its forms across the picture plane; the tree in the painting has the overall shape of a rhombus, its web of contorted branches taking on a dramatic presence.[4] Contrasted with the serene layers of chromatic clouds, the tree's forms have been likened to "many flailing arms."[5] The foreground may be seen as representing death, with the distant sky offering consoling beauty and the promise of redemption afterlife.[3][5]

A single dominant oak was also the subject of two later vertical compositions painted by Friedrich. In those paintings, the trees appear to stand in resignation, whereas that of The Tree of Crows seems animated by desperation.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Börsch-Supan, 1990, 144
  2. ^ a b Börsch-Supan, 113
  3. ^ a b Pomarède, 446
  4. ^ Börsch-Supan, 113–114
  5. ^ a b c Börsch-Supan, 114


  • Börsch-Supan, Helmut et al. Baltic Light: Early Open-Air Painting in Denmark and North Germany, Yale University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-300-08166-9
  • Börsch-Supan, Helmut. Caspar David Friedrich, Prestel, 1990.
  • Grave, Johannes (2017) [2012]. Caspar David Friedrich (2nd ed.). London/New York: Prestel. ISBN 978-3-7913-8357-6 (p. 178).
  • Pomarède, Vincent . The Louvre: All the Paintings, Black Dog & Leventhal, 2011. ISBN 1579128866

Media related to The Tree of Crows (Friedrich) at Wikimedia Commons

{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
The Tree of Crows
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!

Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.


Get ready for Wikiwand 2.0 🎉! the new version arrives on September 1st! Don't want to wait?