1898 - 1959
Portrait of a German Airman

Graphite on paper, signed and dated ’13 Feb (19)19′ bottom left
Image size: 13 x 8 1/4 inches (33 x 21 cm)


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This is a portrait of a German airman that was done by the artist at the start of 1919. The artwork has been created on the reverse of a document from Adlershof, a German Air Park. This exact document is from the ‘Airman Replacement Department’ and is a request form for replacement parts for aircrafts – it asks the writer to specify the type and number of aircrafts, the type of engine and details of its propellers.

Adlershof is a place with a long and famous history. Germany’s first motorised aircraft took off from here at the beginning of the 20th century and the Wright brothers moved their company to the airfield in 1909 shortly after it was opened. In 1912 German Experimental Institute for Aviation was established and made the location it’s headquarters. Indeed, pre-war it was often known as ‘The cradle of German Aviation’.

During the war the War ministry used the site for extensive military production and it is particularly well known for a series of competitions between various aviation firms’ fighter aircraft designs that were held in 1918 and 1919. Even after the War had ended, work continued at Adlershof with the final flight competition being held between February and May 1919 (when this portrait was created). Eventually, the signing of the Versailles Treaty ended all military aircraft work for Germany and led to the dissolution of the Luffstreikrafte in May 1920.


Karl Ludwig Nagel

Little is know about the German artist Karl Ludwig Nagel. What is known is that he was born in Mannheim in 1898 and was active, among other places, in Weinheim and der Bergstrasse and later in Bonn am Rhein, where he died in 1959.