Northern Gothic of the Late Middle Ages

Franz von Matsch1891

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien
Vienna, Austria

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 “Dance of Death” and legend of St. George: Matsch combines these “foremost
ideas of Medieval art” into a coherent scene in the left spandrel and intercolumnar areas. Adam and Eve amplify the symbolism of the dragon as representative of sin. The style of the armour and the inscription above, which is painted such that only fragments are legible, both refer to Emperor Maximilian I. In the second spandrel, a “holy virgin of the type of St. Ursula” leans against its border holding her attributes sceptre and monstrance. For further Information on the building see: Cäcilia Bischoff, The Kunsthistorisches Museum. History, Architecture, Decoration, Vienna 2010


  • Title: Northern Gothic of the Late Middle Ages
  • Creator: Franz Matsch
  • Date Created: 1891
  • Type: Interior decoration

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