This seemingly banal open−air study is in fact imbued with a rich and complex meaning and context that were important for the art of early Romanticism. The penchant for the motifs of destruction, ruin, decay and disintegration culminated around 1800, when far−reaching social and political transformations took place as the result of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Another historical milestone was the onset of the urbanization and industrialization of the Western world. The interest in decline and catastrophic events, which can be characterized by the term “break”, is therefore both a reflection of concrete historical events and the sceptical approach to learning about the world. Friedrich’s broken tree trunk metaphorically comprises these meanings, just like his other paintings of ruins, graves and wreckage.