Johann Adam Breysig

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Johann Adam Breysig (* April 1, 1766 in Leudesdorf; † August 29, 1831 in Danzig) was a German architect, painter and art educator.


Breysig was first trained by the theater painter Peter Beckenkamp in Koblenz and then traveled with a theater company whose stage sets he designed. In 1791 he settled in Bernburg as a master builder and theatre painter and then in 1796 became building commissioner to the princes of Anhalt-Bernburg in Ballenstedt. In 1799 the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm III appointed him as professor to the first teacher of the provincial art school in Magdeburg. In 1804 he opened the art school in Danzig, of which he was director from 1809 to 1831; his successor was Johann Karl Schultz.


The Irishman Robert Barker is regarded as the inventor of the panorama on the basis of a patent of the year 1787. Breysig claimed in a writing published in 1799 that he himself had developed the idea for a complete circular painting already one year before Barker, namely in 1788 [!], and assumed that his ideas had somehow found their way to England and had been stolen there published by Barker. Even if he stuck to this statement, the very fact that Barker had already patented his invention a year before Breysing’s idea proved that Breysing’s claim was not valid. Nevertheless, he at least managed to find someone to finance his own panorama. The painters Johann Carl Enslen and his son Karl Georg Enslen, a pupil of Breysing’s from 1808 to 1811, introduced panoramas on a large scale at fairs in Germany, with the father probably working together more for the technique and the son as an academic painter after attending the Berlin Academy until 1815.


  • Attempt at an explanation of the relief perspective, at the same time arranged for Mahler. 1798
  • New Sketches … concerning fine arts and building craft : First volume in 2 issues. Gdansk 1805
  • Symbolism by wreaths and crowns: Ueberbleibsel des in Königsberg als Manuscript mit dem neuen Schauspielhause verbranntes Wörterbuches der Bilder Sprache; aus einer Künstler-Mappe ; nützlich und unterhaltend für Jedermann, indispensable for fine artists; herausgegeben bei der Gelegenheit der Eröffnung der Danziger Kunst- und Handwerks-Schule. Gdansk: White 1809
  • A dictionary of figurative language or brief and instructive indications of symbolic and allegorical pictures and conventional signs often mixed with them. At the same time attempt of an ornamental dictionary. With 3119 lithographed monograms on 54 pages and a chart. Leipzig: Vogel 1830
Digital copy, Bavarian State Library


  • Theodor Hirsch: Breysig, Adam. In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Vol. 3, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1876, p. 326.
  • Ingeborg Krengel-Strudthoff, Bärbel Rudin (eds.): In blauer Ferne: von der Kulissenbühne zum Königsberger panoramischen Theater: Schriften zur Bühnenreform von Johann Adam Breysig (1766-1831). (Studies of the Research Centre for East Central Europe at the University of Dortmund 12, ISSN 0179-6356) Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 1993 ISBN 9783447033862

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