01 Work, Interpretation of the bible, THE ART OF WAR, Karl Friedrich Lessing’s The Return of the Crusader, with Footnotes #215

Henry Zaidan
2 min readApr 9, 2024
Karl Friedrich Lessing (1808–1880)
The Return of the Crusader, c. 1835

Oil on canvas
66 × 64 cm (25.9 × 25.1 in)
LVR State Museum Bonn

Teutonic knight returning from the crusade; based on Karl Immermann’s poem “The Entry of the Crusaders”.

The late Arnold Toynbee once referred to the crusades as “Christianized Viking expeditions,” and given the wanton destruction and killing that accompanied these Frankish invasions of Palestine, his description seems appropriate. But the crusades provided Western Christianity with its greatest inspirational prize and portended the rise of the military orders by giving an aggressive medieval nobility a spiritual and military raison d’être. More on this painting

Karl Friedrich Lessing was a German painter, great-nephew of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781), philosopher, dramatist, and critic. He studied architecture in Berlin at the Königliche Bau-Akademie under Karl Friedrich Schinkel, before transferring to the Kunstakademie, where he became a pupil of Wilhelm Schadow in 1825. The next year Lessing followed Schadow to Düsseldorf, where the latter had been appointed Director of the Kunstakademie. He exercised great influence on the Düsseldorf school; his picture Das trauernde Königspaar (Mourning Royal Couple) brought him great popularity. In 1837, he received a gold medal at Paris; he was a member of the Berlin Academy and was the recipient of several orders.

Almost to the end of his career Lessing was to follow Schadow’s rules for a standard series of procedures in the production of a finished work: compositional sketch, oil study, detailed model study, cartoon and underdrawing for the final painting. Without an official position, Lessing worked at the Düsseldorf Akademie until 1858, when he was appointed Director of the Grossherzogliche Gemäldegalerie in Karlsruhe, a position he held until his death. More on Karl Friedrich Lessing

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Henry Zaidan

In my Blog is an Online collection of significant paintings from the 1st century to today; complete with art-history and artist bibliographies.