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Sermon in the Beech Grove near Kösen Adolph Menzel


Adolph Menzel Breslau [Wrocław], 1815 – Berlin, 1905

Date 1868
Object type painting
Medium, technique oil on canvas

71 x 58 cm

Inventory number 386.B
Collection Department of Art after 1800
On view Hungarian National Gallery Building D, First Floor, From Delacroix to Vasarely – Highlights from the Collection of International Art after 1800, Baroque Hall

Adolph Menzel was one of the most lauded German artists of the nineteenth century. His genre pieces and his history paintings are characterised by the dazzling wealth of details and intense realism. Though his approach as an artist was substantially different from that taken by the impressionists, he is often associated with the artists from the French group, owing to his virtuoso brushwork and his scintillating handling of light.
The painting by Menzel in the Budapest collection shows people listening to a sermon held in a forest grove near Kösen (now Bad Kösen), a spa resort in Germany. The open-air scene is portrayed using dynamic brushstrokes: the sunlight filtering through the foliage makes the figures appear as vibrant patches amidst the dense green trees. Many among the well-to-do, elegant company are listening to the pastor’s words in silence, while others are walking past the assembly inattentively: what we are witnessing is as much a social event as it is a religious ceremony. When creating the painting, the artists relied partly on sketches he had made on site, and partly on his memory, which explains the realistic if somewhat hazy nature of his depiction.

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

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