KAULBACH, Wilhelm von
(b. 1804, Arolsen, d. 1874, München)

The Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus

Oil on canvas, 585 x 705 cm
Neue Pinakothek, Munich

Cornelius, Schadow, and Schnorr were pioneering in monumental history painting, which was to play so great a role in the second half of the 19th century. Huge panoramic paintings were installed in nearly all the public buildings to make them centres of culture. They taught history and were intended to have a didactic influence as historical models Kaulbach's huge painting, The Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, is the most mature example of the new theatrical history painting. The artist does not show the real event, rather this is idealistic didacticism. We are given an interpretation that transcends time and is intended to be of significance for the whole world. But when Kaulbach places "Christianity" on the right in his painting and an extremely ugly figure of "the Wandering Jew" fleeing the city in the opposite direction, the facets and dangers of the 19th-century view of history are only too plain.

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