3 December 2015
  |   Until:  
28 March 2016

I. Menzel

On the occasion of his 200th birthday

Adolph Menzel is perhaps the most important German artist of his time. A tirelessly prolific painter, lithographer and illustrator, he created a body of work that is unparalleled in its sheer volume, making him a luminary of Prussian art from as early as 1850.

Born 200 years ago in Breslau (Silesia), Menzel came to Berlin when he was 15 years old, and would remain there for the rest of his life. In Berlin he became a chronicler of his city, working with a paint brush, pen or pencil to capture the places and people around him in images that at times celebrate his country and at times adopt a quiet and personal tone: a striking body of paintings, prints, drawings and sketches.

Adolph Menzel: Am Kreuzberg bei Berlin (“On the Kreuzberg near Berlin”), 1847, oil on canvas © Stadtmuseum Berlin | photo: Oliver Ziebe

In this way, Menzel’s work is as much dedicated to Prussian history as it is inspired by his love of the growing metropolis. With his focus on everyday life, Menzel opened up a new field of interest in Berliner painting. It is indeed his attention to the mundane side of human existence, which art critics in his day held against him, that makes him so very modern in the eyes of viewers today. 

This exhibition, however, focuses not on his artistic work but on Adolph Menzel as an individual. Its title highlights this emphasis: “I”. This is also the title of an autobiography that Menzel began writing shortly before his sixtieth year. The exhibition looks for answers to one of the major questions that the artist sought to elucidate in his autobiography: To what extent is Menzel’s work defined by the almost organic connection between his life and the city of Berlin?

Painter’s palette from the estate of Adolph Menzel, ca. 1890 © Stadtmuseum Berlin | photo: Oliver Ziebe

What is being exhibited?

50 years ago, the Berlin Museum (one of the two core institutions of the current Stadtmuseum Berlin, together with the Märkisches Museum) honoured Menzel with an exhibition marking his 150th birthday. Now original pieces from Menzel’s estate and numerous other objects from the collections of the Berlin Museum and the Märkisches Museum will be displayed together.

Alongside examples of his painting, lithography and drawing, the exhibition will also feature personal items. These will include letters, an original painter’s palette, and one of Menzel’s own chairs. Due to his height of just 1.50 meters, he would climb on chairs or ladders in order to be at eye-level with the subjects of his artwork. Other features include so-called Menzeliana such as medallions with depictions of Menzel – in Menzel’s time, the walls of many sophisticated houses were decorated with portraits of the artist.

One special highlight of the exhibition will be a lithography workshop during which Menzel’s images will be reproduced in front of an audience. Visitors will see lithographs created before their eyes in the very manner that won lasting fame for Adolph Menzel – a small man, but an artistic giant.

An exhibition in collaboration with the Adolph Menzel Gesellschaft Berlin e. V.

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Märkisches Museum

Opening times

10am – 6pm, Tuesday – Sunday
Please note our revised opening times during holidays.


Adults: €7.00 / Concessions: €4.00 (incl. audio guide in English)
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Details at Mobidat (in German).


Am Köllnischen Park 5