Kersting painted this picture as a memorial to three friends who had fallen in the Napoleonic wars: Theodor Körner, Karl Friedrich Friesen, and Heinrich Hartmann. Kersting had also followed Körner’s lead and joined the Lützower Freikorps (volunteers) in 1813. As an unmounted marksman, “Jäger zu Fuß”, Kersting had been given weapons and money by Kügelgen and Caspar David Friedrich. Goethe had pronounced the blessing of the arms. The painting represents both Kersting’s patriotismand his grief. The three friends have taken up their position at the edge of an oak wood. They are wearing the Iron Cross medal, which was designed by Schinkel in 1813. Oak trees, their hair styles, and their red, black, and gold uniforms point towards a newly-awakened sense of being German. Silence reigns. Each member of the group seems lost in his own thoughts as though he were no longer of this world. Friesen leans against an oak tree with his rifle at the ready. As a drill instructor he fought alongside Friedrich Ludwig Jahn and became Lützow’s personal adjutant. On the left of the picture sits Hartmann, a nineteen-year-old law student from Heidelberg who had fought with Friesen and Kersting in the battle at Göhrde. Kersting was to see him die. The poet and dramatist Körner, sitting behind Hartmann, recruited volunteers for the Freikorps in Dresden. In his works, he advocated that the freedom of the fatherland should take precedence over the life of the individual.


  • Title: Outpost Duty
  • Creator: Georg Friedrich Kersting
  • Date Created: 1829
  • Physical Dimensions: w24.0 x h18.0 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Technique and material: Oil on Wood
  • Inv.-No.: A II 327
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-815114
  • External link: Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Text: © Prestel Verlag / Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Birgit Verwiebe, Photo: © b p k - Photo Agency / Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders
  • Collection: Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Artist biography: Georg Friedrich Kersting was a German painter during the Biedermeier era. He received his artistic education at the Copenhagen Academy, where he studied from 1805 until 1808 and became deeply influenced by the contemporary Danish school, characterized by its visual clarity. After his studies he went to Dresden and voluntarily signed up with the Lützow Free Corps of the Prussian Army to fight in the Napoleonic Wars. After the campaigns he moved to Poland, starting work as a drawing master in 1814. Four years later he came back to Germany and stayed in Meißen. He became the chief artist at the local porcelain manufacturing works. Kersting’s artworks are characterized by Romanticism and were clearly greatly influenced by his friend Caspar David Friedrich. He later turned his hand to painting interior scenes as well as creating portraits, landscapes and history paintings. 'Stickerin am Fenster' (ca. 1827) and 'Caspar David Friedrich in his Studio' (1819) are among his most famous compositions.
  • Artist Place of Death: Meißen, Germany
  • Artist Place of Birth: Güstrow, Germany
  • Artist Dates: 1785-10-31/1847-07-01

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