Once in 1852, and again in 1872, Menzel depicted the red-painted wall of his studio with plaster casts hanging on it. In both pictures light comes from below, apparently breathing disturbing life into the objects. In the second, larger version (Hamburg Kunsthalle), the death masks dominate while in the earlier version it is the casts of limbs, and although these are taken from live models, their fragmentation and proximity to a skull and a skinned hand make them seem more like parts from a corpse. Menzel has consciously excluded those classical casts that are part of the study program in any art academy: the palette at the lower edge of the picture reads much like a signature below an allegorical declaration of allegiance to the study of nature itself.


  • Title: Studio Wall
  • Creator: Adolph Menzel
  • Date Created: 1852
  • Physical Dimensions: w44.0 x h61.0 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Technique and material: Oil on canvas
  • Inv.-No.: A I 904
  • 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: After his father’s death in 1830, Menzel became the owner of a lithographic business in Berlin, where he lived and worked most of his live. As an artist, he lacked substantial artistic education, visiting the University of Arts in Berlin for only 6 months, and was mostly self-taught. In spite of this, he became the most renowned artist in 19th-century Germany. His most important works depict various historic events connected to the life of Frederick the Great, such as the Flute Concert of Frederick the Great at Sanssouci, or other events connected to Prussia.
  • Artist Place of Death: Berlin, Germany
  • Artist Place of Birth: Breslau, Poland
  • Artist Dates: 1815-12-08/1905-02-09

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