Beethoven inspired a lot of folk. Including the Jugendstil artist, Josef Maria Auchentaller. The latter’s pictorial representation of the Pastoral Symphony decorated the music room of his father-in-law’s Viennese villa. The room and paintings form the focus of the Inspirational Beethoven exhibition at the Leopold Museum.
- Reconstruction of the music room with its five paintings
- Other contemporary works also illustrate Beethoven’s influence on turn-of-the-century visual art
- Runs: Nov 27, 2020 – April 4, 2021
- Access included with a normal museum ticket
- See also: Leopold Museum visitor & ticket info
A symphony in pictures
(Fotomontage des Beethoven-Musikzimmers der Villa Scheid, 1898/99 © Andreas Maleta, aus der Victor & Martha Thonet Sammlung, Galerie punkt12 Foto: amp, Andreas Maleta Press & Publication, Wien, 2019)
For a man associated with classical music in its most formal sense, Beethoven has an undiminished influence on an eclectic variety of creative arts.
Back in 1902, for example, the progressive artists bound up in the Viennese Secession put on the now-legendary Beethoven exhibition in tribute to the Bonn-born maestro.
(Gustav Klimt created his Beethoven Frieze for the occasion, which you can see in all its glory at the Secession building today.)
Josef Maria Auchentaller (1865-1949) was another member of that adventurous group of artists. Indeed, he also produced a piece for that 1902 exhibition, though his Freude, schöner Götterfunken (Joy, Beautiful Spark of Divinity) frieze has since disappeared into the black hole of art history. The title came from the first line of Schiller’s Ode to Joy poem, better known for its appearance in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
The Inspirational Beethoven exhibition at the Leopold Museum takes a closer look at an earlier Auchentaller work, where the artist also used Beethoven as his muse.
Music rooms were a thing in the Vienna of the day and no such room could be considered truly complete without suitably-inspiring walls. So, at the very end of the 19th-century, Georg Adam Scheid invited Auchentaller (who happened to be his son-in-law as well as a gifted artist and designer) to come up with something appropriate for the music room in Scheid’s villa.
Auchentaller produced a rather magnificent ensemble of five paintings reflecting the theme of Beethoven’s Sixth (Pastoral) Symphony.
The particular point of the collection is that Auchentaller really did rely entirely on the music as inspiration and motif, turning a symphony into physical form through art. Each painting represents one of the five movements.
Somewhat ironically, Beethoven noted at the symphony’s premiere that his piece was…
…more expression of feeling than painting
The Inspirational Beethoven exhibition reconstructs that very music room and ensemble. It also juxtaposes Auchentaller’s paintings with works by other artists of the time (including Klimt) to further highlight the influence of Beethoven on the visual arts decades beyond his death.
Dates and tickets
Draw your own inspiration from the paintings from November 27th, 2020 to April 4th, 2021.
If you visit before November, the Leopold museum also has a rather fine exhibition examining the considerable influence of Egon Schiele on Hundertwasser’s art and philosophy (especially noticeable in the latter’s early works). And, of course, enjoy plenty of works by Auchentaller’s colleagues in the Vienna 1900 permanent display.
How to get to the exhibition
Follow directions for the MuseumsQuartier (MQ). Once in the main courtyard, you can’t miss the Leopold Museum.
In the spring and summer, that same courtyard becomes an oasis of chatter and relaxation. All thanks to the open-air bars and much-loved coloured furniture in the unique and distinctive MQ style. Not a bad place to grab a glass of wine while humming a few Beethoven tunes beneath the evening sky.
Address: Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna