HÜBNER, Julius
(b. 1806, Oels, d. 1882, Loschwitz)

Carl Friedrich Lessing, Carl Sohn, and Theodor Hildebrandt

1839
Oil on canvas, 29 x 59 cm
Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Friendship pictures, a tradition going back to Holbein, were revived in the nineteenth century. One of these, by Julius Hübner, shows the painters Carl Friedrich Lessing, Carl Sohn, and Theodor Hildebrandt. Their trompe l'oeil, inscribed frame recalls those of Jan van Eyck, the pictorial format is close to that of the early-fifteenth-century image by Uccello.

Hübner's friends were students of a prominent Berlin academician, Wilhelm von Schadow, son of Germany's best-known Neo-Classical sculptor. As if invisible to one another, they are united by Hübner's all-encompassing portrayal. These friends are shown with a precision suitable to the year of their depiction: 1839, when Daguerre presented his invention to the French Academy, eliciting the famous response that henceforth painting is dead.