How do you lose favor in your lifetime? How do you plummet from great heights of fame and fortune and die alone in anonymity, buried in a pauper’s grave?

Ask Rembrandt. He’d tell you his downfall came when he began to paint his fellow Dutch how he saw them, rather than how they wanted to be seen.

He’d probably not mention that the judgy Dutch were scandalized when he took in a nursemaid for his infant son after his wife died and kept her on after the boy died. Appearances were everything to the Dutch, as their choice of self-promoting portraits suggests.

Eventually, the Dutch changed their mind about Rembrandt. It only took 350 years after he died. That’s when the Netherlands went all out to pay him homage with many shows throughout the land.

Another artist rehabilitated

Now comes another artist who had it all, lost it, and then got it back: Caspar David Friedrich. In his case, it only took 250 years after his birth for museums in his native Germany to celebrate him again.

A trio of major exhibits are coming to Germany this year, with the first opening in December at the Kunsthalle Museum in Hamburg. Berlin’s Alte Nationalgalerie follows in April, and Dresden’s Albertinum and Kupferstich-Kabinett will come in August.

Why did the Germans take two and a half centuries to get over their disenchantment with Friedrich?

It couldn’t have been for portraiture. Unlike Rembrandt, his subject was not man but man’s relations with nature. His “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog” is typical and will be featured at the Kunsthalle Museum.

How, then, did Friedrich lose favor? One word: Hitler. The Führer loved his paintings. Of course, he did. After all, he was big on restricting artmaking to Arcadian settings.

As he famously said, “Art must be cleansed of all manifestations of our rotting world.”

Guilt by association

His association with the Nazis tarnished Friedrich’s shiny reputation. So, museums stayed away from him in the post-war years, and he died in poverty, all but forgotten.

Now, with upcoming celebratory exhibits throughout Germany, we’re re-entering Friedrich’s glory days when his landscapes were once exhibited a ton of times at the Berlin Academy.

He was also favored by Germany’s royals of the time. Many purchases were made, which accounts for why Berlin owns so much of Friedrich's works.

But wait. While Germany gets credit for rediscovering Friedrich, England did it 52 years earlier, in 1972, when London’s Tate Museum presented a show that contributed to the renewed interest in his work.

Naturally, his market value increased, too. His sketchbook fetched more than a million euros ($2 million) last year.

Also, last year, a Friedrich show at the Kunst Basel Museum in Switzerland was so favored by art lovers that they had to be cautioned on the Kunst website to expect a long wait time to see the show.

Wait, there’s more adulation coming. Next year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will mount the first one-person show of Friedrich’s work, which will be named “Caspar David Friedrich: The Soul of Nature.” Ah, the joys of re-discovery!