When we think of the wanderer as a painterly motif, the famous painting Wanderer above the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich comes to mind. This exceptional loan from the Hamburger Kunsthalle forms the starting point for a special exhibition held at the Alte Nationalgalerie, which follows this surprisingly central theme in art throughout the nineteenth century and all the way to famous works of modern art.

Caspar David Friedrich: Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, around 1817 | oil on canvas, 94.8 x 74.8 cm | Hamburger Kunsthalle | © SHK / Hamburger Kunsthalle / bpk / Elke Walford

Jens Ferdinand Willumsen: A Mountain Climber, 1912 | oil on canvas, 210 x 170.5 cm | Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen | © Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018

With Rousseau’s call to get “back to nature!” and Goethe’s Sturm und Drang poetry, wandering around 1800 became the expression of a modern awareness of life. As part of a reaction against the rapid social changes that began in the French Revolution, a new form of decelerated self- and world knowledge developed, whose presence can still be felt today.

Since the Romantic period, artists have discovered nature for them-selves, exploring it on foot and looking at it from new angles. Wandering, in art, came to stand for life’s journey, for symbolic pilgrimage. For the traveller, the self-determined journey on foot brought with it a new, intensified encounter with nature and a form of world-appropriation that was both sensual and physical.

The works shown in the exhibition, including masterworks by Caspar David Friedrich, Carl Blechen, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Johan Christian Dahl, Richard Wilson, Christen Købke, Gustave Courbet, Iwan Kramskoi, Ferdinand Hodler, Auguste Renoir, Emil Nolde, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Otto Dix and Ernst Barlach, show just how powerful and fruitful the motif of the wanderer was in art throughout the nineteenth century, not only in Germany but in many places, from France and Great Britain to Denmark, Norway and Russia. The exhibition is arranged in themed sections: The Discovery of Nature; Life’s Journey; The Artist’s Wanderings; The Promenaders; Italy – Land of Longing; Landscapes of Wandering North of the Alps.

Significant loaned works from important museum collections in Europe and the USA will complement selected works from the collection of the Nationalgalerie, resulting in a large show of more than 120 exhibits.

The exhibition is made possible by the Freunde der Nationalgalerie and supported by Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft.


Paul Gauguin: Bonjour Monsieur Gauguin, 1889 | oil on canvas, 92.5 x 74 cm | National Gallery in Prague | © National Gallery in Prague | On view from May 10 to June 3, 2018

Plan your Visit


May 10 – September 16, 2018


Alte Nationalgalerie
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Museumsinsel Berlin
Bodestraße 1-3
10178 Berlin

ADMISSION (incl. permanent collection)

Regular: 12 Euro
Reduced: 6 Euro
Book tickets online


U-Bahn U6 (Friedrichstraße)
S-Bahn S1, S2, S25 (Friedrichstraße); S5, S7, S75 (Hackescher Markt)
Tram M1, 12 (Am Kupfergraben); M4, M5, M6 (Hackescher Markt)
Bus TXL (Staatsoper); 100, 200 (Lustgarten); 147 (Friedrichstraße)


Café/book store/free cloak room


10 am – 6 pm
10 am – 6 pm
10 am – 8 pm
10 am – 6 pm
10 am – 6 pm
10 am – 6 pm


Ascension Day (Thu 10 May 2018): 10 am–6 pm
Whitsun Saturday, Sunday and Monday (19–21 May 2018): 10 am–6 pm


On the occasion of the exhibition a catalogue including numerous coloured images and essays is being published by Hirmer Verlag. Only in German.

Wanderlust. Von Caspar David Friedrich bis Auguste Renoir
edited by Birgit Verwiebe and Gabriel Montua,
with texts by C. Denk, A. Dorgerloh, R. Gleis, G. Montua,
E. Osterkamp, A. Pfäfflin, B. Verwiebe, A. Wesenberg,
ca. 290 pages, ca. 190 colour illustrations

Price at the museum: 29 Euro

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Alte Nationalgalerie

The idea of establishing a cultural and educational centre across from the Berlin Palace dates back to the time of Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who dreamt of creating a “sanctuary for art and science” on the site. The basic architectural concept for the Alte Nationalgalerie – a temple-like building raised on a plinth decorated with motifs from antiquity – came from the king himself.

More information


The exhibition is made possible by the Freunde der Nationalgalerie and supported by Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft.

Cooperation Partners