Prince Otto von Bismarck, Franz von Lenbach, 1879/1894 © DHM

Prince Otto von Bismarck, Franz von Lenbach, 1879/1894

The German Reich was formed in 1871 as a constitutional monarchy and federal state. The Prussian King Wilhelm I became German Kaiser and thus the new country’s head of state. At his side was Otto von Bismarck, who as the German Reich’s first chancellor attempted to secure the country’s interests by pursuing a foreign policy based on alliances between European states. In terms of domestic policy, he sought to consolidate the new Reich by means of an authoritarian state leadership, while maintaining the social balance in the process.

The portrait shows Reich Chancellor Bismarck in the pose of a self-confident and successful statesman at the height of his powers. During his career as an artist, Lenbach produced over 80 known portraits of Otto von Bismarck.