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16 December 2007
Through the generous support of the Kulturstiftung der Länder, the Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation and the Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie (Friends of the National Gallery), the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) was recently able to acquire an outstanding work of art: 'Die Bittschrift' ('The Petition') by Adolph Menzel. Painted in 1849, the work is the first in a series of paintings illustrating the life of Friedrich II. It is also the first completed painting among the Friedrich pictures which Menzel conceived and executed between 1848 and 1861. Of these, the Nationalgalerie now owns four paintings and seven oil studies which demonstrate the artist's development from the late 1840s to the late 1850s in a most vivid way. Over and above its significance as a supplementation of the Friedrich cycle, the importance of 'The Petition' also arises from its subject matter. It unites an atmospheric portrayal of landscape with a narrative in which the royal subject matter enters a liaison with a motif from everyday civil life. It thus represents a link between two central groups in Menzel's oeuvre.
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