The Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus

(Zerstoerung Jerusalems durch Titus)


Acquired directly from the artist by King Ludwig I

Oil on canvas, 585 x 705 cm // Neue Pinakothek, Munich


“Kaulbach’s interpretation of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romams as a heavenly punishment brought upon the sinful people of Israel by Divine wrath, and as a fulfillment of the Old and New Testament prophecies, follows a long tradition already apparent in the teachings of early Christian writers such as Tertullian.”

Kaulbach’s “Zerstoerung Jerusalems durch Titus” – One of the 100 Greatest Paintings of all time “Kaulbach’s interpretation of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romams as a heavenly punishment brought upon the sinful people of Israel by Divine wrath, and as a fulfillment of the Old and New Testament prophecies, follows a long tradition already apparent in the teachings of early Christian writers such as Tertullian.”

Portrait Wilhelm von Kaulbach. Photo: Friedrich Bruckmann, München, 1864

Kaulbach’s huge painting, The Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, is the most mature example of the new theatrical history painting in the 19th Century. The artist does not show the real event, rather this is idealistic didacticism. We are given an interpretation that transcends time and is intended to be of significance for the whole world. But when Kaulbach places “Christianity” on the right in his painting and an extremely ugly figure of “the Wandering Jew” fleeing the city in the opposite direction, the facets and dangers of the 19th-century view of history are only too plain.

Preterist ARTchive


Kaulbach’s Wandering Jew (With Jewish Responses)


“Kaulbach transformed the historical event into a visual Christian allegorical sermon according to which the destruction of Jerusalem was a divine punishment wrought upon the Jews for their rejection of Christ. The destruction of Jerusalem is seen as marking the downfall and dispersion of the Jewish people and also the end of their ancient religion, and the triumphal emergence of the new faith – Christianity.”
The character anti-semite of this fabric, which reports the destruction of Jerusalem into 70 after Jesus-Christ, is manifest. The artist will represent a judgement that God had wanted and put at execution (detailed printed comment attached to this table). The large prophets and the seven angels are represented at the top. The Titus emperor and his soldiers appear on the right. The Large Priest, to the center, gives himself death. The Jew eternal, represented on the left, is continued by the demons, while a group of Christians, incarnating the ideal of the beauty of Nazaréens, is saved. Louis Ier, who had imposed dimensions of this fabric, will regard it as most important of the collection of Neue Pinakothek. He will pay it 35.000 guilders.”


Ludwig I. appoints William of Kaulbach in the year 1837 his yard painter. At the same time Kaulbach sketches the cardboard for the painting “the destruction Jerusalems by Titus” today in the residents of Munich new Pinakothek to see is. In the next year it manufactures a color sketch. The order of the monarch to the enormous enterprise it receives 1841. It is locked in the year 1846. The monumental work of representative statesmanship measures approximately six on seven meters. In the newly built royal picture gallery the colourful history picture gets its firm place. It finds massive spreading as reproduction pressure. Kaulbach is in its time one of the most famous painters, the materially most successful artist. One becomes enthusiastic at historical contents of its compositions. Kaulbach refers to passages in the text of the old person and new will and the “history of the Jewish war” from Flavius Josephus. The legend is printed and held ready as an interpretation assistance for helpless viewers of the vielfigurigen scenery. To Colonel the prophets Jesaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel and Daniel float. They measure with the Prophetendarstellungen from the Sixtini chapel. They lend Biblical authentication to the entire kompositorischen plant, are the truth of the holy writing for Kaulbachs work to stress. Among them angels float. They are reinforced with flaming swords. They raise their weapons gracefully swinging, in order to let the destruction of the place of worship by Roman troops appear as “göttliches criminal court”.

The official catalog of the new Pinakothek derives Kaulbachs picture reproach from the Biblical book Daniel. Is actual to the quoted Stelle1 „the pointing saying of the seventy year weeks “. The prophet reports of revealing, which let it foresee the future its people from the Babylonian exile to pursuit in the time of the Syrerkönigs Antiochus IVTH Epiphanes: „The people of a prince, who will come, brings a spoiling over the city and the Heiligtum. “The Bible place refers thus surely not to the destruction Jerusalem by Roman troops in the year 70 n.Chr., but to a mischief, that over the city in the sixth Syrian war in the year 167 v. Chr. fallow, when Antiochos in Jerusalem abolished the Jahwekult and in the by any means destroyed temple did not insert its ruler cult. Daniel said even the end of this foreign rule „to spoiling, which is decided, over which wild comes “. In the following years takes place a collection of the Jews under guidance of the Judas Makkabaios, which leads after two-year duration to release Jerusalems.

Further the place from the gospel after Lukas (21,24), aforementioned in the museum catalog for the Biblical authentication of Kaulbachs painting, 2 is to understand as call to „the heath mission “. 3 this Christianisierung is the condition for the establishment of the realm of God. After its introduction in Jerusalem Jesus announces the future destruction of the city and the temple. It remains unclear whether with it conquest Jerusalems under Vespasian, actually taken place, is meant by its son and successor Titus. Christi „speech over the end time “is coined/shaped by the consciousness it imminent of death. The other EH gelists Markus and Matthäus delivers its words than reference to the world end, which is to break with the fall Jerusalems. Also with Lukas “the promise of messianischer Wiederkunft and the release follows after the vision of the apokalyptischen „court over Jerusalem. Lukas leads Jerusalem from the God word „will from the heaths zertreten to become, until those fulfill themselves the times of the heaths “off that the Bekehrung of the Andersgläubigen is a necessary condition for „coming the people son “.

On the stages of the burning temple Kaulbach shows the “leaders of the Jews” according to indication of the museum catalog. The mischief-announcing angels float directly on it too. The military defenders of their hometown designated as Johannes of Gischala and Simon, “the Gioras son”. Ohnmächtig pursue it from its increased point of view the terrible happening. Its face courses, its beard, their helmets are arranged according to an age-old enemy picture. The nose lowers itself trunk-like or grabbird-similarly over the Oberlippe. Chin beards sting dämonisch from the face. The helmets are provided with essays, which let think of the gehörnten hat, that Jews already in the picture world of the Middle Ages denunziert. As source the “history of the Jewish war” of the historian serves Flavius Josephus. Josephus, the son of Matthias leads still two years before the case Jerusalems the command in the district Galiläa.4 of the province commanders of Roman grace to the reign of the emperor Nero, thus sees itself confronted with the resistance of the Joannes from Gischala, the Levi son. 5 this “behind-cunning humans from Gischala” is “strike and maliciously” and does not frighten not before a Mordkomplott against it back. It tries to break a secession from the fence to which must strike down Josephus as a commander militarily.

Flavius Josephus must argue in this time with Simon, the Gioras son. It describes the later Beschützer of the Ringmauer around Jerusalem than one in Judaea marodierenden robbers, bandits and Mörder.6 the Jewish historical writer may the FE storage and conquest of the city from the side of the Roman aggressors out observe. He pursues the happening from the view of the Roman winners. It relies on reports by defectors, who must count on it, into the slavery to be sold. It appoints itself with its report to the agreement of the triumphierenden field gentleman Titus. It does not shrink from itself to mention late atrocity genüsslich cannibalized by Kaulbach: Maria, the daughter Eleazars from the Dorfe Bethezob, in the catalog mentioned “Matrone from Bethezob” is in the illusion of hunger their own baby murdered and roasted haben.7 lies here it for the royally Bavarian yard painter close to use verlogene picture plates over alleged Jewish ritual murders which it on his Rome journeys on the way through run with Innsbruck or could be met Trient.

In the foreground this Jew picture is continued to implement. Money and Geschmeide pour from a precious vase over the soil to linking the armed one breeding with dark view. Its covered head is to mark it exactly the same as gläubigen Jews, like the mosaisch flowing beard. The shape right of it, down-stretched in the death fight, leaves one under its chest blood-purely on the soil. At the point of its sword blood sticks. Also the knife beside the boy corpse left over it is blood-smeared. That directly perpendicularly under it standing metal boilers lets think of earlier ritual murder lies against Jews. A ikonographischer connection with representations of blood accusations as with the alleged murder of the Simon of Trient is possible.

The happening stands in the relationship-rich connection with a group of figures in the right lower half screen. Nut/mother Maria including Joseph, Jesusknaben and Johannes ride similarly as during the feed in Jerusalem on two donkeys. The course bekrönt of angels, who carry a measuring cup including communion wafer floating over it. Beside the süsslich anekdotischen donkey, which eats a straight stachelige thistle, three children kneel. They lift the hands as in Anbetung, or in the term, in order to ask their life. Over it the play unfolds more rächender, right of creative Roman Staatsmacht. Emperor Titus moves in the triumph course in front. Its authentication underlined by the carried Liktorenbündel, the indication of legitimate national force practice. In the picture center the victorious field character of the senate and people of Rome stands. Among them a herkulischer Legionär tries in vain to order to mörderischen driving in Jerusalem stop.

In the left foreground Kaulbach shows Jew” eternal of Furien floated the “. It seems to flee before the boy murder scene. Ahasver does not come of to the Biblical excessive quantity. The motive „of the eternal Jew “goes back on in the year 1602 a brochure with the title, appeared at an unknown place in Germany, „to cure TZE description and Erzehlung/from a Jew with name Ahasverus: which bey the Creutzigung Christi personal been the Crucifige over Christum have helffen schreyen/unnd for Barrabam to please also after the Creutzigung Christi never towards Jerusalem can come also its woman and children never saw: unnd seithero in the life gebieben/and etlich years ago towards Hamburg come also anno 1599 in the December to Dantzig arrive. “8 the catalog of the new Pinakothek criticized formally „the whole problem of this idealistic history painting “9 it related however not the baroque Moritat of the dämonengejagten Jewish Wiedergänger, placed large sized into the foreground. The kompositorisch central revenge angels with their flame swords are spent uncritically on „executors of the göttlichen criminal court “10.

The picture reproach „of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem “is twice treated by Nicolas Poussin. The first version from the time around 1625 encourages its call as „peintre philosophe “, which understands it to bring antique history and historiography with its painting in agreement. He works in Rome on behalf of the Pope nephew Francesco Barberini. 11 it becomes estimated from all art experts of the eternal city. The painting for the undersecretary of state and cardinal improves Poussins financial situation crucially and forms the condition for its following shining ascent. The Titus advancing from right in the float of the Marc Aurel highly to Ross alludes to the diplomatic role Barberinis. It tried as an envoy in France and Spain to prevent a war between two catholic powers. The publicly recognized, „enlightened “and humanitarian Kaisertum of the Marc Aurel is a model for it. However Poussins suggests picture that in martial entangling even the best emperor cannot be always master of the situation.

Despite the repelling hand movement of the commander in chief the flames from the roof timberwork of the place of worship blaze, liturgical equipment are geplündert, defenselessly at the soil lying attacked. Poussin outlined preparing a relief of the Titusbogen. There one puts out, how the robbed temple treasure is carried including siebenarmigem Leuchter in the triumph course of the Roman ruler. On the painting the moment of the robbery is produced. The guilty knowledge is to be marked to the face of the right Legionärs clearly. The front front of Poussins that of the Roman Pantheons resembles temples. The respect for geweihten places is underlined. The painter philosopher follows the report of the Flavius Josephus with his battle painting. Therefore Titus, unfortunately unsuccessfully arranges 12 to delete the burning temple. It wants to move the Legionäre by personal employment – however in vain – to the rescue of the opposing sanctify around. It tried, likewise without effect, „the impetuous of its like racing soldiers become “resist. 13 these rob, which falls them into the hands and metzeln „, they found the Jews to hundreds down. “14 the intruders does not know a grace against children and Greise, a layman and priest. Unfortunately the Cäsar cannot prevent that its people, without instruction of it or its officers, more than six thousand humans in the temple district to burn. A quantity, predominantly women and children flee into the still intact resound the outside temple yard. Titus can watch only, like the building of marodierenden Romans been into fire wird.15

1Die Bible, old and new will, unit translation, Stuttgart 1980, Daniel 9, 26, P. 1010

2Die Bible, a.a.O., P. 1182

3Die Bible, a.a.O., P. 1147

4Flavius Josephus, history of the Jewish war, translated and with an introduction provide P. 286 from Dr. Heinrich Clementz, Brauweiler 1900, Reprint Wiesbaden o.J.,

5Flavius Josephus, a.a.o., P. 289 FF.

6Flavius Josephus, a.a.O., P. 300

7Flavius Josephus, a.a.O., P. 300

8Stefan Rohrbacher, Michael Schmidt, Jew pictures, culture history of anti-Jewish myths and anti-Semitic prejudices, Reinbek 1991, P. 246 FF

9Bayerische state painting States of, new Pinakothek, explanations concerning the issued works, Munich 1981, P. 149

10Bayerische state painting collections, a.a.O., S 148

11 Nicolas Poussin, the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, battle pictures from Jewish history, catalog art-historical museum, Vienna 2001, P. 12

12 Poussin, a.a.O.P. 17

13 Flavius Josephus, a.a.O., P. 589

14 Flavius Josephus, a.a.O., P. 591

15 Flavius Josephus, a.a.O., P. 593


The king Maximilian II out of dress of knight about Saint-Hubert
König Maximilian II als Hubertusritter

Wilhelm von Kaulbach  - Künstleratelier
Kaulbach’s Studio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *