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Madonna or Bride?

From Our Holdings

In this painting, Albertine Heine (1814–1879) appears at first to be a Christian Madonna in an Annunciation scene. She holds the ring near her heart, wearing a white dress and a bridal wreath of myrtle in her hair, with her gaze modestly lowered. But although the frame calls to mind an altarpiece and individual details allude to traditional portrayals of Mary's Annunciation, this bride is not Madonna.

A Celebration of Private Joy

The church in the background is the Marienkirche in Berlin, which was visible from Albertine's childhood home. Also, her hair is not only adorned with a regular lily, the flower of innocence, but also with a lily of the valley, a traditional symbol of love. This reveals the painting to be a celebration of private joy.

A Wedding after a Secret Engagement

The painter August Theodor Kaselowsky (1810–1891) was a student of Albertine's brother-in-law, the artist Wilhelm Hensel (1794–1861). The painting was made on the occasion of Albertine's marriage to Paul Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1812–1874), the grandson of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, on 27 May 1835. Paul's father had long rejected the union but the couple had been secretly engaged since 1831.

Pragmatic Baptism

Both the bride and the groom came from Jewish families, but their parents were no longer religious and had their children baptized for pragmatic reasons: they wanted to spare them the hostility and social restrictions to which they themselves were subject. Another case of private joy in a Christian guise.

Mary's Annunciation

The Gospel of Luke describes how the Angel Gabriel told Mary of her conception of Jesus of Nazareth. This is a widespread subject in Christian art.
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St. Mary's Church, Berlin

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Wilhelm Hensel

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Title Albertine Mendelssohn-Bartholdy als Braut (Albertine Mendelssohn-Bartholdy as a bride)
Artist August Theodor Kaselowsky (1810–1890)
Collection Fine Arts
Year of origin 1835
Material Oil on canvas
Dimensions 113 x 81,5 cm
Painting of Albertine Mendelssohn-Bartholdy in an elaborate gold frame

August Theodor Kaselowsky, Albertine Mendelssohn-Bartholdy als Braut (Albertine Mendelssohn-Bartholdy as a bride), Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jens Ziehe

Selected Objects: Fine Arts Collection (12)

Fine Arts Collection

Glance through our art holdings featuring modernist works by Max Liebermann and Lovis Corinth, and commercial graphic art by Louis Oppenheim. The motifs span from biblical and Jewish themes to intimate portraits and Felix Nussbaum’s haunting response to his experience of persecution.

Albertine Mendelssohn-Bartholdy as a Bride by August Theodor Kaselowsky

In this painting, Albertine Heine appears to be a Christian Madonna. She holds the ring near her heart, wearing a white dress with her gaze modestly lowered.

Biblical map of the Holy Land

This "New and Original Biblical Map of the Holy Land" from 1893 was probably never intended to be used by pilgrims or travelers on the ground.

Loneliness by Felix Nussbaum

Nussbaum is nearly unique among artists for his striking examination of his plight as one of the persecuted. He painted it in Brussels, where he was in hiding, in 1942.

The Plesch Family Portrait by Max Slevogt

Max Slevogt created this painting of his friend's family in 1928. It captures the intimacy of family life while fulfilling a group portrait's representative function.

Composition by Otto Freundlich

Otto Freundlich painted this abstract composition in 1938 – one year after another artwork of his had been branded "degenerate art" in Nazi Germany.

Moses Looks upon the Promised Land by Lesser Ury

For artist Lesser Ury, the painting marked the end of a lifelong preoccupation with the figure of Moses. Unfortunately, only a pastel sketch for the painting survives.

S. Adam Advertising Poster by Louis Oppenheim

With this poster by the well-known graphic artist Louis Oppenheim, the S. Adam clothing store advertised its products to male and female sports enthusiasts in 1908.

Passage through the Red Sea by Jakob Steinhardt

This woodcut by Jakob Steinhardt illustrates a 1920s Haggadah. The people barely escaped with their lives—as is revealed in the expression on Moses’ face.

Girl Walking by Elisabeth Wolff

The sculpture by Elisabeth Wolff was a trophy at the first sporting festival held by the Reich Committee for Jewish Youth Associations, in 1934. The artwork has only been entrusted to our collection for safekeeping.

Self-Portrait with Straw Hat by Max Liebermann

In this late self-portrait, the artist presents himself as bourgeois in a dark suit and a Panama hat. Two years after his eightieth birthday, he painted himself here with a touch of resignation and melancholy.

Sabbath by Jankel Adler

Jankel Adler's painting Sabbath shows a parlor scene on the weekly day of rest. But the artist has not depicted the festive, pleasurable moment of welcoming the Shabbat.

Petermannchen by Lovis Corinth

Lovis Corinth painted this portrait of his student and wife-to-be during a beach vacation on the Baltic coast. It contains a secret romantic message.