MENZEL, Adolph von
(b. 1815, Breslau, d. 1905, Berlin)
The Allegiance of the Silesian Diet before Frederick II in Breslau1855
Oil on canvas, 98 x 136 cm
Menzel's oils of the 1850s and 1860s presented dazzling tableaux of a vastly wealthy, conspicuously refined Potsdam court under Frederick the Great (1712-1786), depicted as if on the same gargantuan plane as Versailles, in a Prussian palace more French than the one near Paris. The Allegiance of the Silesian Diet before Frederick II in Breslau, signed and dated 1855, is an early example. His habitually powerful re-creative imagination makes these canvases look as if he were working after a lost depiction of the subject by an eyewitness. Knowing his audience required a massively detailed approach, Menzel turned to a Dutch seventeenth-century precedent - the skilled reportage and engaged eye of Gerard Terborch, whose work was still very popular in the nineteenth century.