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A Study for 'Contribution'
Photo credit: The Henry Barber Trust, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham

A Study for 'Contribution' c.1884

Adolph Menzel (1815–1905)

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts

(b Breslau, Silesia [now Wrocław, Poland], 8 Dec. 1815; d Berlin, 9 Feb. 1905). German painter and printmaker, active mainly in Berlin, where in 1832 he took over his dead father's lithographic business. He was extremely industrious and achieved fame with 400 illustrations (wood engravings from his lively drawings) for Franz Kugler's History of Frederick the Great (1840–2). In painting he worked on similar themes and with comparable success, creating the popular image of the founder of the Prussian state. From the 1860s he turned to subjects from modern life and was one of the first German painters to depict the picturesque qualities of industry (The Steel Mill, 1872–5, Alte NG, Berlin). Today, however, Menzel is most highly regarded not for the works that brought him contemporary acclaim, but for a series of informal landscapes and interiors dating from the 1840s that remained virtually unknown in his lifetime.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)


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