Beethoven Frieze: "The Sufferings of Weak Humanity" and "The Well-Armed Strongman" (Panel 3, left side wall)

Gustav Klimt1901


Vienna, Austria

The frieze takes its theme from Richard Wagner’s interpretation of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and depicts humankind’s search for happiness. To symbolize this yearning, Klimt chose floating genii who lead us into the story, recurring several times in the frieze as a horizontal chain of figures. On the left-hand wall, this horizontal band is only interrupted by one group of figures: a naked woman standing and a naked couple kneeling — symbols of suffering humanity — beg the knight in shining armor for help. The “Well-armed Strongman” sets off in search of happiness on humanity’s behalf, inwardly spurred on by the two allegor-ical female figures behind him: Ambition and Compassion.


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