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Adolph Menzel, Afternoon in the Tuileries Gardens

Key facts
Full title Afternoon in the Tuileries Gardens
Artist Adolph Menzel
Artist dates 1815 - 1905
Date made 1867
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 49 × 70 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought with the assistance of the American Friends of the National Gallery, London, the George Beaumont Group and a number of gifts in wills, including a legacy from Mrs Martha Doris Bailey in memory of her husband Mr Richard Hillman Bailey, 2006
Inventory number NG6604
Location Room 45
Collection Main Collection
Afternoon in the Tuileries Gardens
Adolph Menzel

In the summer of 1867, the German artist Adolph Menzel visited Paris for nine weeks. While there, he almost certainly went to Manet’s temporary pavilion, which for a few days was situated near the Universal Exhibition. The pavilion displayed around 50 of Manet’s paintings, including Music in the Tuileries Gardens (1862), also in the National Gallery’s collection.

Menzel began work on his painting of the Tuileries Gardens upon his return to Berlin. Not only was his version a response to Manet’s, it was also the first of what was to become a series of modern urban scenes. Menzel has directly quoted elements from Manet, such as the man in profile wearing a top hat and the crouching child in the foreground, but his picture is not a copy or pastiche. There are significant differences between the two in both composition and technique, and Menzel’s painting might be viewed as a rejection of Manet. Seen together, the two pictures reveal there was more than one way to depict ‘modern life’.

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