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Portrait eines Verwandten, wahrscheinlich Dr. Arnold Mendelssohn (1817 - 1854). Ölgemälde von Philipp Veit.
3rd Generation

Rebels and reactionaries

The members of the third generation of the Mendelssohn family, whether of the Jewish faith or Christians, quickly gained recognition in 19th century society. The political beliefs of the cousins diverged considerably. Abraham"s four children, who had been baptized already in 1816, followed by their father in 1822, who added Bartholdy to the family surname at that time, defined themselves as loyal Prussian subjects belonging to the Protestant state religion. The two composers among them, Fanny Hensel (1805 - 1847) and her celebrated, international star of a brother to whom she was very close, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809 - 1847), exhibited liberal leanings. Their brother Paul (1812 - 1874) and their cousin Alexander (1798 - 1871), the bankers, took a more conservative stance, in line with the exigencies of their profession. Rebecka Dirichlet, née Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1811 - 1858), actively promoted the democratic cause. Arnold Mendelssohn (1817 - 1854) even was a member of the extreme left; following his release from prison, he died in the Orient, to where he had been banished. A monarchist, nearly reactionary political stance was developed by the painter Philipp Veit (1793 - 1877), whose mother was Dorothea Schlegel, and by the Berlin court painter Wilhelm Hensel (1794 - 1861), who had married Fanny Mendelssohn Bartholdy. The statements made by Georg Benjamin Mendelssohn (1794 - 1874), a professor of geography, seem to indicate the same mindset. The plurality of the convictions held by the third generation mirrored the society with which they identified themselves.