- Museum number
Study of the Emperor Maximilian I; standing male figure in armour holding a lance and a shield in his left hand. 1839-40 Graphite with watercolour and bodycolour, heightened with gold
- Production date
- 1842 (circa)
Height: 419 millimetres
Width: 145 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Entry from 'Dürer and his Legacy':
'Together with Peter Cornelius and Hans von Marées, Alfred Rethel was a major exponent of monumental art in nineteenth-century Germany. He is best known for a series of designs illustrating the life of Charlemagne, with which he won a prestigious competition in 1840 to decorate the town hall in Aachen, the favoured seat of residence of the first Holy Roman Emperor. He had a particular talent for large, multi-figured historical paintings with subjects drawn from early German history, which were highly symbolic and viewed as an expression of the deeply-felt desire during the nineteenth century for a united Germany.
This drawing is a study for one of the four oil paintings of Holy Roman Emperors for the Kaisersaal in the old town hall in Frankfurt (still in situ; see J. Ponten, 'Alfred Rethel: des Meisters Werke', Stuttgart and Leipzig, 1911, p.75). It was his first commission undertaken when he was a pupil of the Nazarene painter Philipp Veit in Frankfurt from 1836 - 1847. His interpretation of the Emperor Maximilian is based on Dürer, particularly the woodcut of the Emperor Maximilian I of 1518, see cat.no 267. The image of Maximilian as a crusading knight reflects the emperor`s view of himself as defender of the Catholic faith against the Turks: the threat from the East was a continual problem during his reign. It is probably this painting that Rethel mentions to his parents in a letter of 10 December1842: 'ich habe in meinem Lebenselement in der letzten Zeit bedeutendes zusammen geschafft. Mit meinem Kaiser Max geht es auf eine gesunde Weise vorwärts; es macht mir derselbe außerordentliche Freude und in 5-6 Wochen hoffe ich mit demselben fertig zu werden...` (J. Ponten, 'Alfred Rethel Briefe', Berlin 1912, p. 73). A preliminary drawing for the figure of Maximilian is the Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt ( fig. 31).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2002/3 Dec-Mar, BM, Albrecht Dürer and his Legacy, no. 268
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Old mount inscribed by Otto Lessing, the son of Carl Friedrich: 'Original Skizze von Alfred Rethel zu dem "Maximilian" im Romer zu Frankfurt a/M. Aus dem Nachlass von C.F.Lg Seinem 1. (or l. = lieben?) Onkel Robert zu seinem Geburtstage den 11tn Sept. 1880 in dankbarer Verehrung / Otto Lessing'
Boerners acquired the drawing from a private collector, who bought the drawing in July 1932 from Hollstein & Puppel, Berlin (inventory card in dossier).
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number