Ancient Rome

Franz von Matsch1891

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

The Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna openend to the public in 1891. Gustav Klimt, his younger brother Ernst, and Franz Matsch executed forty paintings to decorate the spaces between the columns and above the arcades along the walls of the KHM’s main staircase. Personifications – either male and female, or female only – symbolize different stylistic periods, regions or centers of art. All paintings were executed in oil on canvas in the Artists’ studio; in 1891, six months before the formal opening of the museum, they were glued to the walls of the main staircase. The only partially visible inscription “Senatus Populusque Romanus” recalls the
Roman republic, whilst the massive bronze statue, the She-Wolf of the Capitol, which looms in the spandrel’s background, recalls the founding myth of the Eternal City. The female personification holds a statuette of the goddess of victory in her left hand, and a laurel wreath in her right. This intercolumnar area too is dominated by a still-life that represents imperial Rome with portrait busts and military insignia. The “paraphernalia of the Northern barbarian peoples […] who at the time began to make their appearance in the Empire’s history” is also included in the picture. For further Information on the building see: Cäcilia Bischoff, The Kunsthistorisches Museum. History, Architecture, Decoration, Vienna 2010

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  • Title: Ancient Rome
  • Creator: Franz Matsch
  • Date Created: 1891
  • Type: Interior decoration

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