Today’s work of art is straight out of Germany’s history pages, and in fact I found it at the German History in Documents and Images website. It was by a relatively obscure German artist named Ernst Henseler. About all I could find out about him is that he was born in 1852 and died in 1940. Though I called it “Beer Evening” above, today’s painting is really titled Bismarck in Conversation with Reichstag Deputies at a Parliamentary Soirée and is believed to have been painted in 1894.
The painting is an illustration for the section of the GHDI entitled “Forging an Empire: Bismarckian Germany (1866-1890)” and under the sub-heading “Parties and Political Mobilization.” This also included the following description of the events in the painting:
This painting by Ernst Henseler (b. 1852) shows a parliamentary “beer evening” in the Imperial chancellery. These soirées provided Bismarck with an opportunity to convince parliamentary friends and foes alike that his policies deserved support. Sometimes consensus-building flowed in the opposite direction. Note that beer was more plentiful than food on such occasions, perhaps to the disappointment of one of Bismarck’s dogs, who was also on the invitation list.