Parade on the Opernplatz in Berlin

Franz Krüger1824 - 1830

Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Krüger’s glittering masterpiece was commissioned in 1824 by the Russian Grand Duke Nicholas, the son-in-law of the King of Prussia. It was taken to the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. Shortly before the First World War, the picture returned to Berlin as a present from the tsar to the emperor and was stored in the Stadtschloß (City Palace). It was not until 1928 that it was acquired by the Nationalgalerie. Krüger depicted a panoramic view of the Prussian “via triumphalis” with total topographic accuracy, showing a parade of the sixth Brandenburg Kürassierregiment (dragoons) led by the grand duke, later to be Tsar Nicholas I. He is seen at the head of his troops riding towards King Friedrich Wilhelm III, who salutes in his plumed hat, positioned on horseback opposite the Neue Wache (surveillance building). Contrary to the conventions governing the composition of works depicting historical events, the painter has positioned the monarch on the very edge of the scene. Neither the princely protagonists nor the parade itself are at the center of attention. Instead it is the representatives of bourgeois Berlin who occupy the pavement area in the foreground in front of a group of chestnut trees between the Zeughaus (arsenal) and Schinkel’s Neue Wache, as if showing themselves off on an open-air stage. Here there is a general crowding of the “best known figures in Berlin with no distinction as to class: professors, artists, civil servants, actresses, actors, states-men, military personnel, the daily visitors to the coffee houses and public promenades, the best known gawpers.” (Athansius Racz ´ynski, Geschichte der neueren deutschen Kunst, Vol. 3, 1841) Krüger has faithfully captured many of his contemporaries with evident sympathy, including such personalities as the sculptors Schadow and Rauch, the master builder Schinkel, the singer Henriette Sontag and the violinist Paganini. But there is a place for the ordinary folk too, with the artist devoting particular care to the cobbler’s boy. Krüger avoid-ed any hint of stiffness and uniformity. He was much more concerned to represent the multiplicity and vitality of the social and intellectual life of Berlin.

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  • Title: Parade on the Opernplatz in Berlin
  • Creator: Franz Krüger
  • Date Created: 1824 - 1830
  • Physical Dimensions: w374.0 x h249.0 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Technique and material: Oil on canvas
  • Inv.-No.: A II 648
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-815114
  • External link: Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Text: © Prestel Verlag / Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Photo: © b p k - Photo Agency / Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Andres Kilger
  • Collection: Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Artist biography: Franz Krüger was a Prussian painter and lithographer. As a student he met the landscape painter Karl Kolbe the elder. From 1812 on he began to create landscape paintings of his own while studying at the art academy in Berlin where he exhibited his first paintings of military subjects in 1818. In 1846, during a study trip to Paris, he met Eugène Delacroix. Some years later, he took part in the Paris World Exhibition. Krüger was famous for his romantic and lively portraits as well as his paintings of horses, making him a popular portrait artist among bourgeois and military circles in Berlin. He often depicted military parades. One of his most famous compositions is 'Ausritt des Prinzen Wilhelm von Preußen in Begleitung des Malers' (1836).
  • Artist Place of Death: Berlin, Germany
  • Artist Place of Birth: Köthen, Germany
  • Artist Dates: 1797-09-10/1857-01-21