Adolph von Menzel – Diplomatic passport 1842

Adolph von Menzel age end 40s „Self-portrait“ (1853) Foto: Stadtmuseum Berlin | Foto: Oliver Ziebe

Adolph Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel (8 December 1815 – 9 February 1905) was a German Realist painter and etchings artist. He is regarded as one of the two most influential German painters of the nineteenth century, alongside Caspar David Friedrich, and was the most prolific artist of his period in Germany. He was born Adolph Menzel and changed his name to Adolph von Menzel after being knighted in 1898. Adolph Menzel Diplomatic Passport

To spot travel documents of such significant figures of German (passport) history is truly rare. The city museum of Berlin has this document in its archive. The document you see here is his diplomatic passport issued on

Few of his major paintings left Germany, as many were quickly acquired by museums in Berlin, owing to his popularity in his native country, owing particularly to his history paintings. Menzel’s graphic work (particularly his drawings) was more widely distributed, and these, along with informal paintings not intended for public display, have largely contributed to his posthumous fame. Adolph Menzel Diplomatic Passport

Menzel spent the majority of his life in Berlin, despite several friendships, and was, by his own admission, distant from others. He traveled to find subjects for his paintings, to attend galleries, and to meet with other artists. Menzel had a big head and stood about four foot six inches tall, so it’s possible he felt socially isolated for physical reasons alone. Adolph Menzel Diplomatic Passport

Adolph Menzel Diplomatic Passport
Adolph Menzel, Diplomatic passport 1852, Stadtmuseum Berlin, Inventory XII 1561

During the Nazi era, many important works by Menzel were confiscated, sold forcibly, or under duress. In the twenty-first century, some of these have been restored. The pastel “Lady with a Red Blouse” by Menzel was returned to Erna Felicia and Hans Lachmann-heirs Mosse’s in 2015. Others have been claimed but not returned to their rightful owners. A restitution appeal for the Menzel painting “A Weekday in Paris,” which had belonged to Jewish banker Georges Behrens, was also denied by the Dutch Limbach Commission in 2015. On its website, the German Lost Art Foundation lists a number of Menzel works. Adolph Menzel Diplomatic Passport



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