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Biographical/Historical Information

Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786) was a prominent German-Jewish philosopher during the Enlightenment. He supported the movement for Jews to assimilate to the German bourgeoisie.

Johann Christoph Frisch was a German painter, draughtsman and etcher. He was taught by his father, Ferdinand Helfreich Frisch (1707–58), and by Christian Bernhard Rode (1725–97), supplementing this training by copying pictures in the royal gallery at Sanssouci in Potsdam. He travelled with Jean-Baptiste de Boyer, Marquis d’Argens (1704–71), to Provence and Rome, where from the spring of 1765 he made studies of antiquities and studies after Raphael, Annibale Carracci and Guido Reni. On his return to Berlin in 1768, he undertook commissions mainly for monumental and historical paintings. He executed wall and ceiling paintings in several Potsdam palaces: the Berliner Schloss (1789), the former Niederländisches Palais (before 1779), the Neues Palais (1768, c. 1795), the Neue Kammern at Sanssouci (1774) and the Marmorpalais (1790), and in the Schloss auf der Pfaueninsel (c. 1796). He also produced easel paintings of mythological and historical subjects primarily relating to Frederick II, King of Prussia, and more than 30 known portraits, among them Frederick the Great, King Frederick William II, Prussian ministers and generals, fellow artists and representatives of the Enlightenment, including Immanuel Kant, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and Moses Mendelssohn. Many of these paintings are in the Schloss Charlottenburg and Märkisches Museum, Berlin, and the Neues Palais, Potsdam, and drawings for them are in the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin. Frisch had considerable influence as a teacher at the Berlin Akademie der Künste, being appointed rector in 1786 and director in 1805.

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Frisch, Johann Christoph: Portrait of Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), Leo Baeck Institute, 77.108.