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German History in Documents and Images
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Franz von Lenbach, Richard Wagner (1894)
This portrait of the composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883) was painted by Franz von Lenbach (1836-1904). Lenbach is better known for his portraits of another German “genius,” Bismarck, whom he painted about one hundred times. If Bismarck’s person and legacy have invited various interpretations (he has been described, for example, as both a “white revolutionary” and a “charismatic leader”), then the same can be said of Wagner, for his impact on German music was no less profound (and ambiguous) than Bismarck’s on German politics. Both men certainly became genuine cult figures.