The first drawing of a landscape without human beings – though featuring human constructions – may well have been Leonardo da Vinci’s Arno landscape of 1473, while Albrecht Altdorfer’s “View of the Danube with Castle Wörth” (circa 1522) is possibly the first painting in which no human beings at all are to be seen.
It is surely Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840), however, who must count among the first painters who took up a genuinely anthropofugal perspective in painting. His landscapes devoid of all human presence anticipate a world as it will be after the ebbing away of humanity. In giving rise to a certain aesthetic pleasure in the viewer, such paintings devoid of all human presence secure, in a subtle way, this viewer’s consent to the notion of a liberated and pacified world. Friedrich’s artworks are important objects of a comprehensive “philosophy of antinatalistic forms” which is not limited merely to textual expressions and articulations.