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National Monuments and Nationalism in 19th Century Germany


Hans A. Pohlsander

No century in modern European history has built monuments with more enthusiasm than the 19th. Of the hundreds of monuments erected, those which sprang from a nation-wide initiative and addressed themselves to a nation, rather than part of a nation, we may call national monuments. Nelson’s Column in London or the Arc de Triomphe in Paris are obvious examples. In Germany the 19th century witnessed a veritable flood of monuments, many of which rank as national monuments. These reflected and contributed to a developing sense of national identity and the search for national unity; they also document an unsuccessful effort to create a «genuinely German» style. They constitute a historical record, quite apart from aesthetic appeal or ideological message. As this historical record is examined, German national monuments of the 19th century are described and interpreted against the background of the nationalism which gave birth to them.


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CHAPTER XI Historicizing Painting of the 19th Century 231


Chapter XI Historicizing Painting of the 19th Century German national aspirations and the search for a national identity found an expression also in painting, especially in “Historienmalerei” (historicizing painting), and historicizing paintings, just like monuments, complement or supplement written historical records. Indeed, historicizing painting “is an important means to create and to propagate a national historical-political consciousness.”1 A full or in-depth study of the subject is not possible within the limits set to this book, but its relevance was suggested already in earlier chapters by reference to a number of historicizing paintings. There are many others, and some of them shall be briefly listed here: Angelika Kauffmann, “Hermann nach der Schlacht” (Hermann after the Battle), 1785. Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Innsbruck.2 Franz Pforr, “Der Einzug des Königs Rudolf von Habsburg in Basel 1273” (The Entry of King Rudolf von Habsburg in Basel), 1809/10. Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, Inv.-Nr. HM 51.3 1 So Lemberg, Die Wandgemälde von Peter Janssen 21. 2 Bettina Baumgärtel, Angelika Kauffmann (Düsseldorf 1998) 395. Bemmann, Arminius 173 and ill. 5. 3 Andrews, The Nazarenes 25–26 and pl. 1 with notes, p. 91. Städel, Katalog 19. Jahrhundert 275–77 and pl. 9. Finke, German Painting 50 and pl. 33. Städel, Die Nazarener 61 and ill. B 10. Norman, Nineteenth Century 166. Rosenblum and Janson, 19th-Century Art 82–83 and ill. 52. Rudolf von Habsburg was laying siege to the city of Basel when, on 1 October 1273, he was elected King...

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