This humble everyday subject, meticulously painted, may be a view from the artist's studio in Berlin. Here, Menzel elected to represent human beings only obliquely, through the traces of their activity: a vegetable garden to supply the kitchen, the red postbox on the fence, the drying laundry. Of particular originality are the unusual viewpoint adopted by the artist and the cropping of the image, so that the whole composition appears to be a fragment as informal as a snapshot.
Artist Adolph von Menzel, German, 1815-1905
  • The Back Garden
Date between 1850 and 1860
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 19 × 27 inches (48.3 × 68.6 cm)
Framed: 34 3/4 × 42 3/4 × 4 1/4 inches (88.3 × 108.6 × 10.8 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund and Mr. and Mrs. Allan Shelden III Fund
Accession Number 1991.172
Department European Painting
Not On View
Paul Meyerheim [1842-1915] (Berlin, Germany);
1950's, art marker (Berlin, Germany);
1991, (Thomas Kessler, Zurich, Switzerland);
1991-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Wissman, F. W. European Vistas: Cultural Landscapes. Detroit, DIA, 2000, p. 62, repr.