Adolph Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel ( * 1815 † 1905 )

Biography of Adolph Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel

Honored, ennobled artist

Adolph Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel was born in Breslau, Prussia (now Wrocław, Poland) on December 8, 1815.

The family moved to Berlin, and in 1830 Adolph Friedrich received lithographic training in his father's print shop. After his father's death, Adolph Menzel took over the family lithography workshop and also produced illustrations and pen drawings as models for woodcuts. His first major commission was eleven illustrations for Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's poem "Künstlers Erdenwallen" in 1833.

Menzel also briefly attended the Berlin Academy of Arts, but decided to acquire the skills and knowledge he needed on his own.

He became known for his realistic historical works. He illustrated the history of Prussia and especially scenes from the life of Frederick II and later William I. Among his most famous paintings from this period are "Flute Concert of Frederick the Great at Sanssouci" (1852) and "The Ballroom" (1878). He earned his designation as an artist of Prussian history painting after being commissioned to illustrate the book "History of Frederick the Great" by Franz Kugler. Later Menzel painted industrial objects, landscapes, roads, and other subjects as suggested by the work "The Rolling Mill" (1875).

The influence of Impressionism was also evident in Menzel's works: "The Balcony Room" (1845) and "Night in the Forest" (1851) are some examples. This turn to Impressionism occurred following his trip to Paris.

With his painting technique and personal style, Menzel was an artist ahead of his time. His free pictorial expression and open brushstrokes only later found favor with a wider audience.

In 1870, Menzel received the Order Pour le Mérite (Class of Peace), a state award that carried with it high social recognition.

In 1853 he was elected a member of the Royal Academy of Arts and in 1856 was appointed professor at the same institution. In 1872 he became an honorary member of the Academy of Arts in Munich. His paintings were exhibited all over the world, but especially in Europe: in Berlin, Munich, Dresden, Hamburg, Paris, Venice and Vienna. His fame grew with his many honors and in 1898 the High Order of the Black Eagle knighted Menzel. His hometown of Berlin eventually named him an honorary citizen.

On February 9, 1905, Menzel died in Berlin at the age of 89. The artist received a state funeral on the orders of Kaiser Wilhelm II, and the imperial family was present at the funeral.

 

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Art prints and oil reproductions by Adolph Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel

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