- Adolph Menzel
- Die Armee Friedrichs des Grossen in ihrer Uniformierung. Berlin, 1851–1857
- ink on paper
Adolph Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel (1815 –1905)
One of Germany’s most celebrated artists of the second half of the 19th century. Through his portraits, depictions of factory workers, as well as his more intimate studies of interiors or of everyday life, Menzel became one of the greatest German proponents of Realism. Spending virtually all his life in Berlin, he executed numerous paintings and illustrations relating to events in Prussia’s recent history and was the foremost chronicler of the life of King Frederick the Great (reigned 1740–86).
His 400 drawings for woodcut illustrations to Franz Kugler’s Geschichte Friedrichs des Grossen (Leipzig, 1840) cemented his illustrious reputation as the chronicler of Frederick the Great’s reign. A series of 200 drawings for the woodcut illustrations for Die Werke Friedrichs des Grossen, on which he worked from 1843 to 1849, and a further series of 436 drawings for the lithograph illustrations for Die Armee Friedrichs des Grossen in ihrer Uniformierung (Berlin, 1851–7), which occupied him from 1842 to 1857, were two of his most important projects in those decades.
By the mid-1840s Menzel was producing his first important paintings. In 1849 he began a series of major oil paintings dealing with episodes from Frederick the Great’s reign, the first of which was Frederick II with his Guests in Sanssouci (1849–50; destroyed 1945). Further works in the series include Frederick the Great’s Flute Concert in Sanssouci (1852), Frederick the Great on his Travels (1854), the Diet of Silesia Paying Tribute in Breslau, 1741 (1855), Frederick and his Family near Hochkirch, 1758 (1856; destroyed 1945), Meeting with the Emperor Joseph II in Neisse, 1769 (1857), ‘Bonsoir, messieurs’ (1858), and Frederick the Great Addressing his Generals before the Battle of Leuthen (begun 1858; unfinished).