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Karl Friedrich Lessing

1808 Breslau – 1880 Karlsruhe

Karl Friedrich Lessing is mostly known for his monumental historical paintings, which earned him a considerable reputation after he moved to Düsseldorf in 1826. Alerted to the potential of history painting by his friend, Wilhelm Schadow, Lessing subsequently became the founder of historical paintings on political themes. In the 1830s he devoted increasing attention to 15th and 16th century religious conflicts. Monumental paintings, such as the Hussite Sermon, and creations in the 1850s devoted to the life and work of Martin Luther were regarded in the intellectual climate from 1815 up to the March Revolution of 1848 as expressions of liberalism. In his early work up to 1832, however, Lessing proved to be a valid exponent of the late Romantic period, revealing signs of the inspiration he derived from Caspar David Friedrich, Carl Blechen and Karl Friedrich Schinkel.