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Our Guide to the Alte National Gallery: Top 10 Things to See

May 25, 2017 10:00 am by

See Berlin’s cultural highlights with this guide to the Alte National Gallery

Located on Museum Island, the Alte National Gallery can easily be spotted by its dramatic neoclassical facade and tall Roman columns. While its striking exterior make it a popular sight on the island, the rich collection of artworks ranging across Classical through to Modernist periods is worth seeing. See the best works in the collection with this guide to the Alte National Gallery.

Guide to the Alte National Gallery

In the Conservatory

Painted by impressionist artist Édouard Manet, this painting depicts an elegantly dressed woman and man amidst a lush green conservatory. Depicting two real life figures, Manet’s married friends who worked in fashion, the image immediately draws on its viewers’ curiosities and raises questions as to the nature of their conversation.

Guide to the Alte National Gallery

Der Monch am Meer

This eerie landscape was painted by German painter Caspar David Friedrich when Romanticism was sweeping the country and shows a monk standing solitary by a gloomy sea. The composition of the piece is what really drives in the sombre mood of the scene, with the scrap of land and monk confined to the bottom fraction of the canvas creating a sense of the overwhelming power of nature.

Guide to the Alte National Gallery

The Balcony Room

This understated portrait of a balcony room with its doors flung wide open, curtains billowing in the wind as light spills through, is a tranquil scene that speaks to German painter Adolph Menzel’s talent. As one of his greatest masterpieces, the painting is full of unexpected modern sensibilities in its composition, finishing and observational nature and communicates a vivid sense of the peaceful setting.

Guide to the Alte National Gallery


Crafted by sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow, these beautiful marble statues depict the Princesses Luise and Friederike of Prussia and were commissioned by the royal family. Located on floor one of the museum, this double statue is particularly important to the art world as it was the first time that women were depicted in the format.

Guide to the Alte National Gallery

Isle of the Dead

The Isle of the Dead, or Toteninsel as it is referred to in German, is a famous painting by Swiss artist Arnold Böcklin. Painted in 1883, this dark canvas depicts a figure sailing towards a looming island with a coffin in tow presumably to lay it to rest. At one point, this picture was so popular it was found on postcards, posters and even led writer Vladimir Nabokov to remark in a book that it could be ‘found in every Berlin home’.

Guide to the Alte National Gallery

The Blind Samson

This harrowing painting created in the early 1900s by Lovis Corinth is a biblical one, depicting the once strong Samson bleeding from his newly gouged eyes. The raw power of the painting lies in his tortured expression and pose, captivating while simultaneously unsettling those viewing the painting.

Guide to the Alte National Gallery

Flute Concert with Frederick the Great in Sancoussi

Adolph Menzel’s body of work makes up a great part of the museum’s historical art and this particular painting, which shows a scene from his series regarding Prussian King Frederick the Great, is one of his most striking. Frederick the Great himself stands in the centre of the painting performing a flute song for his sister who sits on the couch, with Adolph’s distinctive style casting an elegant air over the scene.

Guide to the Alte National Gallery

Still Life with Flowers and Fruit

Paul Cézanne was renowned for his still lifes and this piece is one of his most accomplished. This simple yet stunning painting depicts flowers, pears, a table and white tablecloth in meticulous detail, using rich colours that give the scene vibrancy.

Guide to the Alte National Gallery

Portrait of Heinrike Dannecker

This beautiful painting by neoclassical artist Gottlieb Schlick is full of life and colour. The subject of the portrait is Heinrike Dannecker, the wife of one of sculptor Johann Heinrick von Dannecker and one of his teachers. Her easy pose and peaceful expression communicate a real sense of her character and result in a stunningly realised portrait.

Guide to the Alte National Gallery

In Summer

Auguste Renoir took to his paints and canvas to create many portraits of his mistress Lisa Tréhot, however this painting named In Summer is one of his best. With her long, dark hair and blouse artfully slipping off her shoulder, it’s easy to see the depth of feeling for her in its intricacies.