Of all the examples of the painterly spontaneity of the young Menzel’s art, The Balcony Room is one of the earliest and also most admired. Unlike contemporary Biedermeier interior views, this painting gives no conclusive information as to the room’s aspect. Two thirds of the surfaces are simply empty. It is only in the mirror that there is any detail: a petit-bourgeois inventory of the most mundane sort, oddly disarranged and far from homey. Large areas of the picture are “unfinished,” which in fact means that the paint, not depicting something else, retains a life of its own. The actual theme of the painting is immaterial: strong light pours into the room with a gust of wind that blows the fine, white curtains inwards, and that is all the viewer discovers about the otherwise undefined outside world. A lack of consistency in observing precise perspectives, following the rules of linear construction, makes the floor appear to incline towards the viewer. This suggests different stages of perception simultaneously.


  • Title: The Balcony Room
  • Creator: Adolph Menzel
  • Date Created: 1845
  • Physical Dimensions: w47.0 x h58.0 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Technique and material: Oil on canvas
  • Inv.-No.: A I 744
  • 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 / Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders
  • 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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