Adolf von Menzel

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Adolf von Menzel
Adolf von Menzel, in full Adolf Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel (born December 8, 1815, Breslau, Prussia [now Wrocław, Poland]—died February 9, 1905, Berlin), German painter and printmaker, best known in his own day as a brilliant historical painter, whose patriotic works satisfied the public’s taste, engendered by Prussia’s continual expansion throughout the 19th century, for propagandistic art. In the 20th century he was chiefly esteemed for his sensitive treatment of light and the original compositions of his small genre pictures.

In 1832 Menzel took charge of his dead father’s lithographic workshop and, self-taught, rapidly became famous in this medium by illustrating various histories of Prussia, especially those dealing with the reign of Frederick II the Great. These were followed by illustrations for similar publications, such as a lavish edition of Works of Frederick the Great (1843–49) containing 200 plates. In painting Menzel soon became famous for his glittering re-creations of such scenes as Frederick the Great’s concerts at his palace, Sanssouci, and The Ball Supper (1878), showing the court of King Wilhelm I vigorously enjoying a meal.

In later times Menzel was most admired for small paintings and drawings dating from about 1840 onward. These interior, street, and landscape scenes demonstrate Menzel’s unorthodox vision; subjects are viewed from high or low angles, and there are departures from conventions of grouping and framing, as well as innovative excursions into industrial subjects, as in Rolling Mill (1875). In works such as Room with a Balcony (1845) and The Artist’s Sister in the Sitting Room (1847), Menzel presaged later developments of the Impressionist movement in France in his refined feeling for the effects of light and his use of open brushstrokes.

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The French Window
Oil on canvas, 58 x 47 cm
Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Storm on Tempelhof Mountain
Oil on paper on board, 31 x 47 cm
Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne

The Palace Garden of Prince Albert
Oil on canvas, 68 x 86 cm
Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Rear of House and Backyard
c. 1846
Oil on canvas, 43 x 61 cm
Nationalgalerie, Berlin

The Berlin-Potsdam Railway
Oil on canvas, 43 x 52 cm
Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Living-Room with the Artist's Sister
Oil on cardboard, 46 x 32 cm
Neue Pinakothek, Munich

Sister Emily Sleeping
c. 1848
Oil on paper and canvas, 47 x 60 cm
Kunsthalle, Hamburg

Victims of the March Revolution in Berlin Lying in State
Oil on canvas, 45 x 63 cm
Kunsthalle, Hamburg

A Flute Concert of Frederick the Great at Sanssouci
Oil on canvas, 142 x 205 cm
Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Studio Interior with Casts
Oil on paper mounted on board, 61 x 44 cm
Nationalgalerie, Berlin

The Allegiance of the Silesian Diet before Frederick II in Breslau
Oil on canvas, 98 x 136 cm
Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Thйatre du Gymnase
Oil on canvas, 62 x 46 cm
Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Moonlight on the Friedrichskanal in Old Berlin
c. 1856
Oil on canvas, 40 x 33 cm
Nationalgalerie, Berlin

William I Departs for the Front, July 31, 1870
Oil on canvas, 63 x 78 cm
Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Afternoon at the Tuileries Garden
Oil on canvas, 49 x 70 cm
Gemäldegalerie, Dresden

The Studio Wall
Oil on canvas, 111 x 79 cm
Kunsthalle, Hamburg

The Iron-rolling Mill
Oil on canvas, 158 x 254 cm
Nationalgalerie, Berlin


The Artist's Bedroom in Ritterstrasse

The Artist's Room in Ritterstrasse

The Artist's Sister Emilie

At the beer garden

At the Louvre

At the Opera