Lot 19
  • 19

Adolph Menzel

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
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  • Adolph Menzel
  • Die Armee Friedrichs des Grossen in ihrer Uniformierung. Berlin, 1851–1857
  • ink on paper
3 volumes, 4to (350 x 240mm.), MENZEL’S OWN COPY, THE PLATES COLOURED BY HIM, ALSO INCLUDING EXTENSIVE AUTOGRAPH INTRODUCTIONS, COMMENTARIES, CAPTIONS, OTHER NOTES, AND ONE OR TWO MARGINAL SKETCHES, 428 lithographed plates (see note), all but two coloured by the artist, text engraved throughout, bound in nineteenth-century red morocco gilt, with the crowned monogram of Frederick I stamped in gilt on the covers, bookplate of Wilhelm II, watered silk endpapers, gilt edges, volume 3 hinges broken


Wilhelm II, German Emperor, King of Prussia, bookplate; the books were part of the Emperor’s military history library, housed in the former living room of Queen Elisabeth at the Berlin Schloss

Catalogue Note

THE MOST FAMOUS WORK ON FREDERICIAN MILITARY UNIFORM, BY PRUSSIA’S LEADING COURT ARTIST; A UNIQUE COPY COLOURED AND ANNOTATED BY MENZEL HIMSELF. Only thirty copies were printed, including a final total of 436 plates. This preparatory copy is Menzel’s own, and contains 428 of the plates, all but two of which are coloured by the artist, and act as a model for the rest of the edition.

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).