A Menzel Returns to the Kupferstichkabinett

12.03.2019
Kupferstichkabinett

Adolph Menzel’s Oberregierungsrath Knerk returns to the Kupferstichkabinett after more than 70 years. From late September 2019, the portrait will be on display for audiences to behold, along with other works in the exhibition Menzel: Paintings on Paper.

Adolph Menzel’s Oberregierungsrath Knerk

The portrait of Geheimer Oberregierungsrath Knerk (Senior Privy Councillor Knerk, ca. 1863/1865) was produced as a study for the monumental painting Krönung Wilhelms I. in Königsberg (Coronation of Wilhelm I in Königsberg, 1865), which hangs in the Neues Palais in Potsdam. A few days before his coronation on 18 October 1861, Wilhelm I commissioned Adolph Menzel to document the ceremony. 

Between 1861 and 1865, Menzel produced 172 sketches and portrait studies for the coronation picture. The portraits were produced in individual sittings with the dignitaries depicted in the painting. All the preliminary studies for the coronation picture were acquired directly from the artist in 1880 by Max Jordan, director of the Nationalgalerie, for inclusion in the “Drawing Collection”. Since the reunification of Germany, they have formed part of the collection of the Kupferstichkabinett.

While investigating the provenance of the work, the Grisebach auction house, where the portrait of Geheimer Oberregierungsrath Knerk was supposed to be auctioned, discovered that the work had originally formed part of the “Drawing Collection”, and made contact with the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz. After further research by the Zentralarchiv of the SMB confirmed that the museum had lost the work during the war, the owner decided to return the sheet to the museum.