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 youthful figure of an angel holds out a thurible. Matsch thus injects a dynamic
element into the still-life which occupies the background. This is composed of two prominent works of Medieval goldsmiths’ art, the reliquary bust of Charlemagne (after 1349) and the Shrine of the Virgin Mary (1220–38) in Aachen cathedral, the body of which projects into the spandrel. Against a splendid mosaic background, a female figure wearing a crown with pendilia and bearing a palm frond, and an ivory triptych symbolise the art of Byzantium. For further Information on the building see: Cäcilia Bischoff, The Kunsthistorisches Museum. History, Architecture, Decoration, Vienna 2010


  • Title: Roman and Byzantine Art
  • Creator: Franz Matsch
  • Date Created: 1891
  • Type: Interior decoration

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