The Alte Nationalgalerie is regarded as a comprehensive collection of art of the era between the French Revolution and the First World War, between Classicism and Secessions. The harmonious relationship between the museum building and its collection is unique: designed under the auspices of Heinrich Strack according to plans by August Stüler, the gallery was built in the years 1867 to 1876: the collection it houses today, one of the most beautiful of its kind, originates from the same century. Hence, a tour through the museum offers a profound insight into the art of the 19th century.
Adolph Menzel's paintings, among them such important works as "The Balcony Room" and the "Iron Rolling Mill", reveal the artist as an unremitting observer who, picking up important subjects of Prussian history, simultaneously displays stupendous imagination and a fine sense of colouring. Among the 19th century sculptures are such famous works as the two princesses by Johann Gottfried Schadow as well as works by Berthel Thorwaldsen, Antonio Canova, Ridolfo Schadow, Reinhold Begas, Adolf von Hildebrand and Constantin Meunier. Further sculptures of the Schinkel era are on display in Friedrichswerder Church.
The collection also contains rich holdings of high quality Impressionist painting. Masterpieces by Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne and sculptures by Auguste Rodin were purchased at an early date.
Painting of the second half of the 19th century is abundantly represented with works by Hans Thoma, Anselm Feuerbach, Arnold Böcklin, Hans von Marées, Wilhelm Leibl and Wilhelm Trübner. Further, the Alte Nationalgalerie presents its large collection of paintings by Max Liebermann.
The art of the Goethe era is represented with landscapes by Jakob Philipp Hackert, portraits by Anton Graff and his contemporaries and works of the German artists working in Rome, known as the Nazarenes: Peter Cornelius, Friedrich Overbeck, Wilhelm Schadow and Philipp Veit. Their frescoes illustrating the story of Joseph, commissioned for the Casa Bartholdy in Rome, constitute a major achievement of the period. Two rooms on the top floor of the Alte Nationalgalerie offer space for the jewels of Romanticism. Paintings by Caspar David Friedrich from all phases of his artistic career illustrate the development of the great master of German Romantic art. Karl Friedrich Schinkel's programmatic architectural visions are evidence of the architect's ingeniousness as a landscape painter. Another focus is formed by the works of Carl Blechen, whose vibrant colours and unconventional motifs are ahead of their time. Moreover, on display are portraits by Philipp Otto Runge and Gottlieb Schick, as well as landscapes by Joseph Anton Koch and Carl Rottmann. Biedermeier art is represented with Berlin views by Eduard Gaertner and Johann Erdmann Hummel, as well as with landscapes, genre paintings and portraits by Carl Spitzweg, Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller and others.