Adolph Menzel was the leading German artist of the second half of the 19th century. This painting of the Tuileries Gardens in Paris was executed by him in 1867 following a visit to the city to see that year's Universal Exposition. It was almost certainly inspired by another of the National Gallery's paintings, Manet's 'Music in the Tuileries Gardens', painted just five years earlier.
Both paintings share a fascination with the bustling social scene of the day in the Tuileries Gardens, adjacent to the Louvre in the heart of Paris, but are executed in strikingly different styles. Menzel's approach is both more realistic and filled with detail. He invites the viewer to move from incident to closely observed incident across the canvas.
Menzel made several sketches in the Tuileries Gardens which he took back to Berlin with him although none of these actually anticipate the composition of the finished painting.
Although painted in a more traditional, academic style, Menzel does pay a kind of homage to Manet by quoting from his painting. The standing man in top hat in the foreground just right of centre closely resembles a similar figure in Manet's painting. When he first exhibited the work, Menzel made the point of indicating that it was executed from memory.
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