Frederick the Great Playing the Flute at Sanssouci

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Frederick the Great Playing the Flute at Sanssouci
ArtistAdolph Menzel
Mediumoil on canvas
Dimensions142 cm × 205 cm (56 in × 81 in)
LocationAlte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Frederick the Great Playing the Flute at Sanssouci or The Flute Concert is an 1852 oil on canvas history painting by the German painter Adolph Menzel. It depicts Frederick the Great, King of Prussia playing the flute at an evening concert at Sanssouci and is now in the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin.[1]

Menzel was one of the most popular and important Realist painters of the 19th century, and was ennobled as Adolph von Menzel in 1898. His works form an important record of life in Prussia at the time, especially the life of Frederick the Great. Sanssouci (meaning Free of Care), was Frederick's summer palace at Potsdam, near Berlin.

The painting depicts a musical soirée at the palace at which a piece of music is being played with King Frederick himself playing the flute center stage. In front of him sits his chamber ensemble and to his rear an audience of dignitaries and noble ladies. The focus of the work is not on the music but rather on Frederick and the ambience created by the interior design, the furniture, the chandelier and candlelight and the ladies' elaborate dresses.

The assembly is made up of some of the leading names of the day, namely:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Adolph Menzel – Flute concert in Sanssouci". Retrieved 2 July 2020.


  • Werner Busch, Adolph Menzel: The Quest for Reality (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2017), pp. 65, 139–145.
  • Gabriele Busch-Salmen, “Adolf Menzels Flötenkonzert Friedrichs des Großen in Sanssouci: Ein vertrautes Gemälde, 150 Jahre nach seiner Fertigstellung neu gesehen”, Music in Art: International Journal for Music Iconography, 28, nos. 1–2 (Spring–Fall 2003), pp. 127–146.
  • Jost Hermand, Adolph Menzel: Das Flötenkonzert in Sanssouci: Ein realistisch geträumtes Preußenbild (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1985).
  • Hubertus Kohle, Adolph Menzels Friedrich-Bilder: Theorie und Praxis der Geschichtsmalerei im Berlin der 1850er Jahre (Munich: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2001), pp. 75–80.
  • Günther Thiersch, “Das Flötenkonzert”, in Deutsche Maler im 19. Jahrhundert: Zwanzig Meisterwerke aus dem Besitz der Nationalgalerie Berlin, Staatliche Museen Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Stuttgart: Ernst Klett Verlag, 1979), pp. 130–140.