The kind act of a patron led to the founding of the Nationalgalerie. In 1861, Johann Heinrich Wagener, a banker in Berlin, bequeathed 262 paintings by contemporary artists to the Prussian king. Over time, the founding collection, which had become historical in the interim, was steadily expanded with contemporary art of the respective times. Today, the Nationalgalerie houses one of the most important 19th-century painting collections, including outstanding bodies of works by Caspar David Friedrich, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Carl Blechen, Adolph Menzel, Arnold Böcklin, Anselm Feuerbach, Hans von Marées, Max Liebermann, and Lovis Corinth, as well as of Impressionism and Symbolism.
The digital collection catalogue on 19th-century paintings (accessible since 2017) is the first to publish all of the paintings, works on cardboard and miniatures from the periods of the Enlightenment, German Romanticism, Impressionism and Symbolism. Although only about a quarter of the collection is on permanent display at the Alte Nationalgalerie, the Nationalgalerie’s complete inventory, comprising nearly 2000 19th-century paintings, can now be viewed in this catalogue. Short texts introduce the works in the collection, enhanced by provenances, exhibition details, and bibliographic information. The provenances were researched and verified in collaboration with the Zentralarchiv der Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Central Archives). The digital collection catalogue offers an essential, continually updatable reference work for further studies and research.
Originally published in 2017, the online database is accompanied by a two-volume print version of the collection catalogue, titled Malkunst im 19. Jahrhundert. Die Sammlung der Nationalgalerie (in German). Like the online catalogue, the print version is fully illustrated. In addition to texts about the works, it contains an introductory essay on the history and composition of the collection and a chronology. The publication is available through the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin webshop.
The print catalogue encompasses all the collection’s paintings created before 1904, including permanent loans in perpetuity. The year that witnessed the founding of the Expressionist artist group Die Brücke was was chosen as the cutoff point. Lost works and “Fremdbesitz” (third-party ownership) are omitted. These paintings are documented in individual catalogues, the Dokumentation der Verluste (2001, Documentation of Losses) and Dokumentation des Fremdbesitzes (2008, Documentation of Third-Party Ownership)(both in German). Only the most recent provenance entry is listed in the print version of the collection catalogue, i.e. how and through whom a painting came directly into the collection. In contrast, the details of earlier provenance information are listed in the online database and will be continually augmented with current research.
Special thanks to the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung, which enduringly supported the work on this catalogue and recognised the importance of the cataloging of holdings as part of a museum’s basic research. We are greatly indebted to this foundation for its considerable financial support and its confidence in this project.