The Collection Of Modern Paintings In The Lower Belvedere
THE paintings displayed in the tier of chambers on the groundfloor of the lower Belvedere are all by 19th century artists, the majority Viennese. A goodly portion of other modern work is also shown, which makes the Gallery well worth visiting. The rooms run the entire length of the groundfloor of the building, five to the left of the entrance vestibule, and three larger ones to the right.
The First Room on the left is entirely devoted to Viennese artists. " Laufenburg on the Upper Rhine " is by Gustav Schönleber, a landscape and architectural painter. Theodor von Hörrmann has a " Winter in Znaim " and a " Harvest scene"; and Jan Preissler a fine marine, entitled " The Black Sea." The Viennese landscape painters of the 19th century were excellent craftsmen, but all seem to have had a common self-sufficiency, a habit of being satisfied with moderate attainment of an accepted, conventional formula. Scarcely ever do we find any searching for new light, until in the last two or three decades of the century the Secession movement, sweeping over Germany, also stirred a few of the Danube artists to strive for stronger colour-effects.
The same condition prevailed among the figure painters, clearly demonstrated in the anecdotal " Tailorshop," by Walther Püttner. In genre, however, we find a few touched by Zolaesque realism, which delighted in the rugged, oft coarse and brutal presentation of human nature and the human form. This later development we note in " The Icemen," by the Austrian Karl Mediz.
On an easel in the corner stands Böcklin's portrait of Lenbach, a powerful characterisation, painted with all the magisterial sweep which was at the master's command. But we will consider this one of the greatest artists of modern times more fully later on, when we stand before one of his masterpieces.
The Second Room also contains Austrian paintings. A life-size portrait of Emperor Francis Joseph I is by the Hungarian K. Pockwalszki. W. List and W. F. Jaeger have peasant scenes. The self-taught Bohemian artist, Josef Püttner, excelled in marine painting, and his " Storm and Shipwreck at Cape Horn " is a fair example of a second-rate artist. Albin Egger-Lienz presents " After the War, Tyrol 18o9," where the old men who have served in the Landsturm are returning home. It is a typical Defregger picture, with somewhat broader treatment. Of late years this artist has fully been inspired by the Secession spirit and his most recent works are powerful, almost titanic demonstrations of decorative force.
Several watercolours are found here of Rudolph Alt—quite a strong man who had good light-effects and was very successful in perspective. This is to be seen in a view of the " Church of St. Stephan " of Vienna, that wonderful old Gothic monument; and also in a view of the " Public Gar-dens of Venice."
There is more of interest in the Third Room. We may quickly pass the " Fruitmarket in Vienna," by K. Moll, the strongly Frenchified performances of Emil Jacob Schindler, and the more Germanic pictures by August von Pettenko fen.
The healthiest in practice of the middle-century painters was Moriz von Schwind. He was a nature painter, who loved to people his enchanted woods with fays and elves, sprites and gnomes and goblins, with a warmheartedness that showed how seriously he took the fantastic creatures of his brain. Such fanciful conceits we find here in his " Nimper Nip," in the " Fairy Rounddance," and where the mountain sprite "Rübezahl " wanders lonely through the rocky glenn. Schwind was the sworn enemy of the purely literary Dusseldorf school, whose art he called " blind grovelling." There was more of poetic imagination in his work than in that of the platitudinous transcribers of other men's thoughts. Thus his wooded landscapes are more felt, more loved, than observed, although still saturated with nature's breath. The early morning sun-ray breaks through the light green of the young beeches, and gambols from twig to twig, and changes into diamonds the glistening dew-drops, and into gold and precious stones the brown beetles that seek to hide under the grey moss.
Josef Danhauser also was an independent spirit. When German art was bound by its literary shack-les, and even the literary criterion by which art was measured was circumscribed by the doings of polite society, Danhauser was one of the first to consider the picturesque life of the common people. The affairs of a pastor or a schoolmaster had been considered the lowest limits of an artist's world, and when Goethe wrote Hermann and Dorothea it was taken quite ill that he would concern himself with the fate of an apothecary and an innkeeper's daughter. But Danhauser, Ludwig Richter, and later Ludwig Knaus followed his example and popularised democracy. Danhauser's " Maternal Love " is an instance of this modernity. We may also detect therein already a modern feeling for light and colour.
Three foreigners are further shown in this room. The example by Laurens Alma Tadema is one of his classic compositions of minute finish. The cruel Fredegunde plays here the heroine. Tadema is the learned commentator on tales of antiquity which he depicts with scrupulous care. He combines the results of his scholarly investigations with an artistry of deep dramatic intent, and a mise-enscene which, whether Greek, Egyptian or Roman, always gives the impression of being true to the life of the period. A Frisian by birth, Alma Tadema has gone back to the technique of his forbears, Dou, Terborch, and has added thereto a modern conception of decorative colour-scheme which is astonishingly attractive. His skill in painting marble is especially renowned.
The full-length portrait of a woman, by Eugene Carrière, possesses this French painter's characteristic of what may be called a fluid atmosphere, which seems to drown the figure in the diffused glory of a twilight that enhances its melancholy. It is a mannerism that has been highly appreciated by minds that lean towards mysticism — spiritual-ism, perhaps — who have raised Carrière on a high pedestal; but it is a mannerism for all that. It has been stated that the artist was preoccupied with a spirit of reaction against Pleinairists and their abuse of the functions of light in making abstractions of solid realities. This shows that Carrière fell into exactly the same error, from the other extreme, for his figures are more like abstractions of realities than were ever conceived by the most extreme Luminist.
Two of the latest additions to this collection are a magnificent figure piece, and a portrait of Don Miguel de Segovia, both by Ignacio Zuloaga. In these days of denationalising art it is stimulating to stand before the work of one who may be called a classic Spaniard. Not that Zuloaga is narrow in his conceptions. He has studied and painted in Italy, he has dipped into light-baths of the ultra French movement, but he always returns to Spanish subjects to paint them in the style which is the heritage of Ribera and Goya. His work has reached the absolute unification of technique, senti-ment, and subject. These subjects are studied with a penetration and a power which is unforgetable. The puissant types which he depicts evolve a race — an isolated, mysterious, a somewhat incomprehensible race — with an exceptional reality and picturesque characterisation. Thus his portraits are of the soil as well as the reflex of the sitter's soul. To associate Zuloaga's name in any way with Velasquez is a fundamental error. In no way is he in sympathy with the clearer light of the great Castilian who 'was the forerunner of the French Pleinairists. By rights he must claim descent from the richer contrasts of the more southern school of Valencia, and through it from Caravaggio.
In the Fourth Room we may quickly pass by a few canvases, still worth noting. " Children at Play " is by August Roth, and H. J. E. Evenepoel depicts the close of day, with toil-worn figures trudging along the road. Rudolf Backer has a meritorious portrait of two women. The "Last Morning of a Condemned," by Karl Schindler, is a dark picture of opaque colour that looks like a begrimed old canvas. Still there is deep feeling and excellent drawing in this scene. Leopold Muller, a genre and landscape painter, made a great reputation as an illustrator for the Vienna Figaro. His types " Old Little Matron " and "Last Task of the Day " go back to his illustrative period. His " Modern Sphinx Judgment " glows with all the colour of the Orient.
This room may properly be called the Makart Room. We find here a fine ceiling decoration by this famous Viennese artist, Hans Makart. This can, unfortunately, scarcely be seen in the poor light. A portrait of Charlotte Wolter, the leading actress of the time at the Vienna Burgtheatre, in the character of Messalina, is a realistic and impressive document. The important exhibit is the series of five long, narrow panels on which nude female figures symbolically represent " The Five Senses." These panels are known all over the world through reproductions, and they may be considered the most typical presentments whereby the art of Hans Makart can be judged.
We note, then, that Makart was a sure observer, a splendid draughtsman, and a thorough master of his craft. His one desire seems to have been to represent beauty in form, which he thought to find to perfection in the female nude, which made him the German Bouguereau. He painted the nude for its beauty of colour, the softness of the muscles, the transparency and reflection of the limbs. His art was utterly devoid of literary objectiveness, its thought is only a transparent mantle around the main object, which is the painting. In this he was the direct antithesis of a Dusseldorf painter, who first considered the story, and then sought to clothe it; caring more for the meaning than for the manner in which the tale was told.
All this may be said in praise of the art of Makart, and yet it fails to place him among the masters, for with all the superficial attractiveness of his compositions — and we may well think here of his equally famous " Entry of Charles V into
300 Antwerp," and his " Diana's Hunting," in the Metropolitan Museum — there is an evident lack of sincerity in his work. In these five figures before us the treatment of the forms is too literal, too descriptive, rather than ideal. We do not catch on these figures the accidental gleams and shades of light simmering through the interstices of green foliage—they bloom in an absence of light, of atmosphere, with very sweet and pretty pinks of impossible fleshtints, and a conventional background of formless green made to represent shrubbery. These nymphs are prettily sentimental, faultily faultless, vacuously peaceful—but they also lack the vigour of line which gives life; and the smoothness of their demarkation makes these forms flaccid and limpid.
Nor can we be quite satisfied with the colour of these figures. These porcelain models look all alike - soap, rouge and cold cream. In fact, the effect before us suggests that before the artist painted this model, she painted herself, and that in all her nudity she seems at least to be sufficiently protected never to be afraid of sunburn or freckles.
We need not consider the attacks that have been made on the art of Makart on moral grounds aside from the fact that specialists in morals are not generally authorities in art. The art of Makart is sensuous in the extreme, yet a fine distinction must be drawn from the sensual. However sensual his life may have been, his art can never be stigmatised as the expression of objectionable motives.
The majority of the paintings in the last Room of this wing are works by Ferd. George Waldmüller, who was in sympathetic accord with Danhauser. The portraits painted by Waldmüller look quite old-fashioned, and the figures in the " Monks' Supper " are reminiscent of Dusseldorf Grützner painted such subjects with greater unction and humour. In the " Ruins of Schönbrunn " we find, however, a creditable attempt at the painting of free sunlight, which makes the picture very attractive. A fruitpiece, also, has all the depth of romantic colour.
After again traversing these rooms we enter those on the right of the main entrance, where we find a great deal that is of surpassing interest.
Room VI presents a half score of pictures, ranging from the pure realism of Courbet to the supreme idealism of Monet, Böcklin, and Segantini. We halt first before a large landscape by the French realist. The trees, rocks, verdure and sky are painted with that strong savour which Courbet felt and reflected so intensely. With a naturalism that has no vestige of ideality he paints the solid earth, physical, actual, prosaic, in all brutal frankness.
No modern painter makes one feel more intensely the crisp breath of mountain air, or makes one hark so keenly to the crackling of the swaying boughs.
The very antithesis to this realistic presentment of nature is Hans Thoma's idealistic " Landscape from Parsifal," which wins you with its delightful, almost childlike freshness. Thoma was not always so attractive in his composing, and, at first, his pictures were by no means beautiful. They lacked the principle of great art which, while it records what is ungainly or even ugly in nature, only uses this as a proper foil, and directs the eyes and thoughts to what is most perfect in her. In Thoma's early works the ugly and ungainly asserts itself more than necessary. Still the objections raised against him by the schoolmen of Berlin and Dresden — some of these advised him facetiously to change his name — were undeserved, for there was in this master a power of idealisation of the commonplace which is convincing. And Thoma, buried in the country, slowly asserted the sincerity of his naïve and charming equipment, and demonstrated fully at last his solution of the problem to find the highest in the lowest, with clear, steady, unfaltering truthfulness, and with unforced sympathy. His landscapes have the calm, even repose of nature, without hurry or stagnation and some modern paintngs times with a spiritual gaiety — as in the example before us — that is decidedly inspiring.
One who belongs by right of merit to the group of German painters who revived their national art through that great movement, the Secession, was Fritz von Uhde. This excavalry officer and son of a clergyman came through Paris to the Nether-lands, only to be set dreaming in his own way. His conviction that truth is the foundation of all beauty led him to a realism of presentation which was assailed on every hand as the preachment of socialism. The disciples in his famous " Last Supper " have been called a mob of criminals, be-cause Uhde depicted types of such as he imagined had followed the Master — men taken from hard toil, worn-out yet willing to suffer, with one coat to their back to preach the gospel of eternal riches. Such spiritual exaltation in decrepit, poor, miserable vessels Uhde conveys; with no supreme skill, perhaps, but adequately. Thus his " Fisherman's Children," here, have none of the prettiness that inspires the Philistine with admiration, but the simplicity, the unconscious naturalness, the uncompromising truthfulness of the work touch and in-spire those who seek for the soul in art.
Endowed with more poetry and some mysticism was Hans von Marées, of whom we find here an idyllic landscape. This painter's principal aim was to convey a sense of space in his work; and colour, drawing, composition, light, all tend to impress one with the largeness of nature, the amplitude of its forms. He was decidedly one-sided in his performance. His hatred of naturalism, and especially of modern French art, made him often fall into every transgression of style, let alone of convention. Nor can it be conceded that his work, individual though it be, bears in it the completeness of perfect attainment. Marées was too much of a searcher, almost one could say an experimenter. Nevertheless, his art proves him to be a lover of the ideal, though not its most eloquent prophet.
Few, will contest or even gainsay the claim that the greatest genius in German art of the 19th century is to be honoured in Arnold Böcklin. He was the greatest landscapist of the 19th century. Not a one-sided specialist, as were the classics of Fontainebleau, Corot, Millet, Rousseau, who each had their favourite nook or time of day. Böcklin was as many-sided as infinite nature. He painted her in lovely idyls, in sorrowing elegies, in tempestuous tragedies, in all the dramatic phases of an exalted creation. He painted everything — the charming and the heroic, the sensuously excited and the demonic fantastic, the struggle of broiling waves and the eternal rest of towering rockmasses, the wild turmoil of the sky and the quiet peace of flowering swards.
And he did not analyse or imitate nature, but he synthetised and reproduced her in images of vital significance, reflecting in symbols some illuminating poetical idea. He populated nature with beings which seem the condensation of nature her-self, the tangible embodiment of her spirit and cosmic action. Thus there takes place in his work an organic union of figures and landscapes by his force of intuitive conception, like a pantheistic nature-poetry. These figures are never accidental, they are organic parts. of the whole design; never meaningless accessories, but symbolic forms emanating naturally and harmoniously from the spirit of the scene — in a word, the actual embodiment, the allegorical expression of the scene itself. In a dionysian manner he invests nature with a soul.
Note the examples before us. In this " Idyl of the Sea" the marvellous effect of moving water, the colours both above and beneath its changing surface, colours with violent hues and purple shadows, the strange half-human quality of the sea-creatures with their ebullient energy, boisterous humour, stout and lusty — it all takes rank among the inimitable creations of Böcklin's art. Likewise his " Venus Genetrix " is a work of supreme grandeur, where in the measured beating of the waves upon the shore we seem to hear the lyric song of Hellenic mythology.
No man has ever painted the sea as Böcklin. How the white foam flows down the wave in little rills, how the blue deepens and becomes luminous, how the billows grow up from the deep and are brushed by the wind. Water all around. The horizon is low, very low, as if the painter had been sitting up to his breast in the water. And in all this width and expanse a couple of beings, — not men, not animals, and yet both ; not tritons, not mermaids, yet both ; not beings of antique lore, yet of classic and human conception.
Böcklin's power of creating these beings of his imagination is a thing unheard of in the whole history of art. He visualised the wonderful coalescence of animal and human traits in his centaurs, tritons, mermaids, nereids, sirens, fauns, even in the unicorn of his " Silence in the Woods," in forms so fascinating by their strength, their beauty or their ugliness, as no longer to appear grotesque. The unbounded freedom of their being, the over-powering animalism of their strength, the double life with which they seem possessed, is depicted with a transcendent artistry that rises above all conventional conditions. Even the mishandling of human or animal form produces the essence of both.
Colour was with Böcklin everything. Not light colour, not grey colour, not brown colour, but colour in its highest potency. Many of his pictures have such an ensnaring brilliancy that the eye never is weary of feasting upon their floating splendour. He painted the ocean so blue as it is possible to be, the meadow such vernal green, so full of flow-ers, the sky so luminous and the clouds such brilliant white, the rocky gorges so deep, and the forest umbrage so dark — as only those can see who rub the dust of the soil out of their eyes, tear some-what apart the white hazy veil of earthly existence, and gaze into a nature, clarified, etherealised, perfected, supernal. That is what Böcklin did — the prince of seers with prismatic vision. At the very time when Richard Wagner lured the colours of sound from music with a glow and light such as no master had kindled before, Böcklin's symphonies of colour streamed forth like a crashing orchestra.
Of course he was not understood. To the last his works remained incomprehensible to the gen-eral public. He offended aesthetic conventions too strongly by giving aesthetic impressions in a novel, personal way. Still, he slowly educated his age to recognise the aesthetic truth of his conceptions, even of those creatures of his fancy which had at first been greeted with shouts of laughter. And some commenced to see with his eyes, so that the storm and stress of his youth and manhood ended in a last decade of peace and recognition. Naturally, he did not found a school in the strict sense of the word. His style is too markedly the pro-duct of his own personal temperament. But the influence of the strong individuality of his art extended far beyond the narrow bounds of pure imitations, and undoubtedly was felt as the most powerful factor in the renaissance of modern German art. What Goethe was to German literature, and Wagner to German music, Böcklin was to German art.
More pagan than Böcklin is Franz Stuck, who undoubtedly was influenced by the greater master. He, also, loves to people his landscapes with Pan, fauns, nymphs, and satyrs in joyous freedom and hearty animalism. He makes his woodlands ex-hale the rude vigour of the earth, and he sets you down in these shady groves with a spontaneity, a gaiety, or a tenderness most alluring. In his " Landscapes," which we find in this gallery, there is a buoyancy, a delightful freshness, that is more physical than intellectual. Stuck uses his colour in the same manner as Böcklin did — to give the plane of the canvas the dimensions of space. He uses the colours according to their optical effect as they project or retreat from our eye. Frequently Stuck has longings for the profound, the didactic, the philosophic, as when he declaims concerning " Sin " or " War " and " Evil Conscience." Then his attempt to be grandiose, monumental, statuesque becomes but a clumsy allegory, some-times creepy, more often banal, and always theatrical.
The modern Viennese painter Gustave Klimt fills his landscapes with a thoughtful tonality. One of these here, " The Lovers," has the human interest added in a most sympathetic manner.
Two foreigners add peculiar interest to this room of moderns. " The Cook," by Claude Monet, is one of his rare treatments of the human figure, which he places in the atmosphere, bathed with light, and breathing with life. It reminds us of the story told of his entrance into the studio of Gleyre to leave it immediately. The teacher had objected to his drawing the model as he saw it. " You are copying its defects, instead of correcting them from your knowledge of the best examples." " Then, why not abandon the model and draw from casts?" was his indignant rejoinder. There is no perfection of a cast in this figure here; it has all the imperfections of the model; yet, with all its apparent sketchiness the study is exhaustively precise, each stroke a matter of reflection, and the labour expended long and scrutinising.
Two works by the Italian Giovanni Segantini are magnificent examples of the characteristic, per-sonal art of this great painter. They are entitled, " The Bad Mothers " and .a " Spring Meadow." Segantini was a poet-painter of tender sympathy, who felt the soul of nature in the solitude of the mountains, in the iridescence of their colours, in the dazzling transparency of light. How true is his thin atmosphere of the higher Alps, with the luminous blues and whites, and rich gold and sil-ver of the snow-capped heights. The charming spring-freshness, the brief summer-wealth, the long and dreary winter-solitude, thrill us with spiritual truth. We are even more impressed with his portrayals of the relation between man and beast — their unity, their cosmic oneness. And when he depicts with touching truthfulness the weariness, the dulling fatigue of the peasant after a day's hard labour in the fields, he infuses the tender pathos of this life, not its unredeemed tragedy; for we feel that in the bare and lowroofed huts content and happiness dwell.
Above all he was a painter of motherhood and motherlove he, who had suffered as an orphan in a neglected childhood, who had never known a mother's caresses. Such pictures are always filled with tenderness — except once. When in his last decade he painted symbolistic works, and, pondering over questions of crime and punishment, his meditations assumed the form of forceful images, then he chose a message almost fraught with bitterness in " The Bad Mothers." There he pictures women unwilling to bear the responsibilities of motherhood, and he banishes them in their thin, flowing robes into a bleak desert of ice and snow, and condemns them to suckle infants that seem to grow upon the naked trees — a gruesome, almost Dantesque fancy.
Technically Segantini was a true exponent of the doctrine of colour which was utilised in France by the so-called Impressionists for other purposes. He substituted the optical mingling of colours for the mingling of pigments on the palette; in other words he decomposed all the colours into their constituent elements and placed these in short strokes, like threads, alongside each other on the canvas. With him this optical mingling excites much more intense luminosity than is the case with many others whose aim is to produce this result,
In Gallery VII we are attracted by the work of three great German artists, Feuerbach, Lieber-mann, and Klinger.
By Anselm Feuerbach we find here some drawings which are individual and beautiful, with figures of a dignity truly Greek, yet a charm that recalls the earlier masters of the Renaissance. There is a peculiar analogy to be drawn between Feuerbach and Makart, his great rival, whom he derided as " a mountebank and a vain decoration-swindler." Yet, they have the same aim, to find form in col-our, through the idealising of nature and not of the antique. But in Feuerbach's work we find more thought, more dignity, and he controls the colours he uses so lavishly with a delicate tonality. There is with him simplicity of the colour-speech, a Greek rhythmic in composition, the beautiful lines of the bas-relief. His period lost interest in his work because it was not anecdotal, yet his own prophecy: In fifty years my pictures will have tongues to tell what I was and what I wished," has been sooner fulfilled than he himself believed possible.
Max Liebermann has painted most in Holland, a country whose quiet beauty he was quick to appreciate. His " Peasant-home at Edam " is a characteristic example of his work. He aimed to represent the common facts of life as opposed to its humours or heroics, in which he diverged from the general trend of German art in his time. Thus he became one of the first rebels against the thread-bare glamour, and the hollow sentiments which ruled in Dusseldorf and Munich; and although at first called " the apostle of the ugly," the clear, steady, unfaltering truth of his work, its unforced sympathy, the absence of all effort to strike the eye with bold colour or vehement gesture soon found its appreciators and followers.
Before we consider the large " Judgment of Paris," by Max Klinger, which covers the long wall, we will turn into the next room, where we find also ,his Christ in Olympus." But first we will note some of the other paintings in this Gallery VIII.
An imposing mountainscape that bears the descriptive title " Ueber alle Wipfeln ist Ruh," is by Karl Haider, a Secessionist of fair attainment. Anton Romako, a genre painter who is particularly successful with Viennese children types and Italian figures, has here " The Bubble-blowers," a symphony in delicate whites. Franz Eybl's genre concerns itself more with old age, as we see in " The Old Beggars " and " Old Woman Praying." Eugene Jettel, the Moravian landscape painter, bears too much the stamp of outside influences—those of the modern French school, and of Dutch scenery which he is fond of painting. These local scenes, "Wood-landscape in the Ramsau " and " Hintersee," could as well be considered to lie in France or Flanders. The landscape by Albert Zimmermann is an echo of Ruisdael, for it seems as if all the followers of the Achenbach school of landscape painting chose some old master or other to act as their "counsellor, guide and friend."
The consideration of the two large, decorative canvases by Max Klinger may well close our ac-count of the Viennese Galleries. They are the apotheosis of modernity, a fit finis to a discussion of so many of the marvellous products of the older masters with so much that is great in the later schools.
Max Klinger's name was first mentioned in 1878 when, in an exhibition of drawings, was heralded the advent of a new man of an interesting temperament, with whom the world of art should reckon. This was followed by etchings, some of which leaned towards the Japanese and others pointed to Böcklin. While in his drawings there had been a humourous vein, he had become more serious in his etchings, sometimes revealing a touch of the grue-some, with all the moral teaching of Hogarth more grimly put. When he started to paint it was by the way of Flaubert's realism, in which he tried to show the truths of life with the expression of Zola's horrors. The manner in which his work was received may be surmised. It is the same all the world over. The conventional Academicians and the hide-bound critics have ever ready the taboo, " Kill him! He is original!"
This was the reception which his first large oil painting received at a Berlin exposition in the late eighties. Klinger had found himself. Nothing of any outside influence was to be seen in his magnificent " Judgment of Paris," which is now here before us. It was one of the first works of a new movement to be seen in public. But the universal condemnation showered upon it almost broke the young painter's heart.
And what was it that upset the community? Three females standing before a youth, one glorying in her nudity, the other two partly draped. How often had this subject been painted without ever arousing antagonism? But then the female figures had been raised through idealism to a higher sphere, whereby beauty covered and redeemed nudity. Here, the stern realism was too arousing for the mentally torpid who had always been satisfied with the restful conventions of the past, A decidedly modern manner of presentation, of decorative purport, even in a hard, dry colour, but of broad, masterful handling, shook the devotees of mediocre art with horror and consternation.
The next great work by Klinger was a " Crucifixion " — equally opprobrious to those who believed in the presentation of the dogma of the Church, not of the soul of faith.
" Christ in Olympus " (Plate XLVII) was the third of the master's large canvases. Here is a juxtaposition of Christian and pagan. ideals which is distinctly dramatic. The Lord, with a gold brocade mantle around His lean body, and fol-lowed by four richly gowned women, representing the cardinal virtues, intrudes upon these splendid gods. Before the Christ sits Zeus, with Ganymede leaning between his knees. Bacchus offers Him his goblet, Cupid is ready to dart his arrows to His heart. Only Psyche, the soul, understands, and she alone is eager to welcome the new ruler.
This painting was exhibited in Vienna in 1899,. and found at once a home in the Lower Belvedere — ample proof that in a decade the judgment of the Philistines had been overruled by the hearty acclaim of those whose broader vision looks kindly upon the steps of a genius, though he walks in novel paths.
Klinger is an artistic polygamist — he is wedded to all the arts, to music, to literature. He is a sculptor of note. The frames for these large canvases were built and carved by the artist with marble figures at the base and in the predella. He has even gone into that ancient usagé of polychromy and chriselephantine sculpture, of which his seated statue of Beethoven is his. most wonderful work.
If any man, Klinger has proved the existence of a new art, with all its transposing of routine and art-dicta of the classics of centuries ago and of yesterday. If any man, he has proved that Art is ever young.
( Originally Published 1911 )
The Art of The Vienna Galleries:
The Collection Of Count Von Harrach
The Collection Of Count Schönborn-buchheim
The Collection Of Modern Paintings In The Lower Belvedere
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