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Biographical/Historical Information

The novelist and translator Dorothea von Schlegel was the oldest daughter of philosopher and rabbi Moses Mendelssohn, born in Berlin in 1764. Married first to the banker Simon Veit, she became known as a Salonnière for the artistic and intellectual elite in Berlin. In her second marriage, she was married to the poet and philosopher Friedrich von Schlegel (1772–1829). Dorothea von Schlegel died in Frankfurt am Main in 1839.

Anton Graff, born in Switzerland in 1736, was the leading German portrait painter of the 18th century. Working in Augsburg since 1756, he moved ten years later to Dresden, where he worked at the newly founded Academy. In his long career he supposedly painted 1,240 portraits, including those of some of his most famous contemporaries, such as Herder, Lessing, and Schiller. Fragments of an autobiography were posthumously published in 1815 in Zurich.

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Dorothea Schlegel née Mendelssohn / painting by Anton Graff, Leo Baeck Institute, F 3063.