Rethel, Alfred

BORN 15 May 1816, Aachen, Nordrhein-Westfalen: Haus Diepenbend - DIED 1 Dec 1859, Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen
GRAVE LOCATION Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen: Golzheimer Friedhof, Fischerstrasse (Feld 1)

Alfred Rethel studied at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf under Wilhelm von Schadow and first exhibited there in 1832. His early work showed the influence of Cornelius.

In 1836 he moved to Frankfurt am Main where he worked at the Städelsche Kunstinstitut and painted his first frescoe. In 1839 he won the contest for the Crowning Hall of the City Hall in Aachen and he created frescoes on the life of Charlemagne. The cycle was never finished after controversy broke out and some of te frescoes were destroyed during the Second World War.

His series of wood engravings "Another Dance of Death" (1849) was about the events of the revolution of 1848. In 1851 he married Maria Elisabeth Henrietta Philippina Grahl (1832-1895, the daughter of a jeweller from Berlin at the Sophienkirche in Dresden. They travelled to Rome, but he lost his senses in 1853 and they returned to Germany. He was paced in a mental institution in Bonn-Enderich, the Richarz’sche Privat-Nervenheilanstalt, where Robert Schumann had been treated as well. His illness was unstoppable and he died in 1859. His name seemd to be forgotten, but during the 20th century he was recognized as one of the best German painters of monuments.

Related persons
• was teacher of Feuerbach, Anselm
• was pupil of Schadow-Godenhaus, Wilhelm Friedrich von


The grave of Alfred Rethel at the Golzheimer Friedhof in Düsseldorf.
Picture by Androom (05 Nov 2005)


Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909

Réthy-Imre, Esther

Published: 29 Apr 2006
Last update: 24 Dec 2023