Germania

Object Number: 
1882.154
Date: 
1849
Medium: 
Oil on linen
Dimensions: 
Framed: 100 1/2 × 118 1/4 × 5 1/2 in. (255.3 × 300.4 × 14 cm) Unframed: 90 × 107 1/2 in. (228.6 × 273.1 cm)
Marks: 
signature and date (lower left): CH. KÖHLER 1849
Gallery Label: 
Germania is an allegory of the failed German revolutions of 1848, and the continued struggle by German liberals to create a single democratic nation out of their many autocratic states. It was first exhibited in New York’s Düsseldorf Gallery in 1850 and was immediately recognized by critics and public alike as one of the most important European paintings in the United States. Contemporaries noted that the painting had found safe haven in New York City, the epicenter of a large post-revolutionary influx of German liberals. Germania is depicted reaching for the Imperial Crown and Sword of the defunct Holy Roman Empire, while Justice hovers overhead followed by an angel carrying the then revolutionary tri-color flag of a unified Germany. From 2006 until 2011, Germania was exhibited in Berlin as the centerpiece of the Deutsches Historisches Museum’s display on the 1848 revolutions. Germania now finds resonance, across Central Park, with the painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851, Metropolitan Museum of Art), created by German-American artist Emanuel Leutze (1816 –1868), another liberal sympathizer. Leutze’s iconic work, begun in 1849, was seen by contemporaries on both sides of the Atlantic as not only connecting the revolutions of 1776 and 1848, but also, like Köhler’s masterpiece, as a rallying cry for the cause of democracy.
Credit Line: 
The Durr Collection
Provenance: 
Louis P. Durr Collection
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group