Allegory of Sacred Music (Female Organ Player) (1885) by Gustav KlimtBelvedere
The study "Allegory of Church Music" shows the design for one of nine large-format ceiling paintings completed by Gustav Klimt together with the artists' company in 1885 for the city theater in Rijeka. The commission was likely granted during 1884. Documents state that at the beginning of April 1885, the ceiling and proscenium paintings produced on canvas in distemper were exhibited in the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna before being delivered to their destination.
The three artists did not paint the large canvas pictures on location but completed them as usual in their Vienna studio at Sandwirthgasse 8. Gustav Klimt, Ernst Klimt, and Franz Matsch shared the work and often also signed the pieces they created.
The theme provided for the ceiling paintings of the city theater in Rijeka was likely a cycle of allegories on the various genres of music. The individual motifs of the ceiling paintings can therefore be linked to sacred and secular music as well as military music.
Klimt's portrayal of the female organist is an illustration of sacred music. The most unusual aspect here is that the organist kneels before the instrument. This turns the organ into a sort of altar, clearly symbolizing the sacred aspect of the music.
The organ player wrapped in a blue silk dress is accompanied by a mandolin-playing angel in a white robe who hovers above her…
…as well as a couple of singing cherubs in the clouds on the right side of the painting.
Text: Österreichische Galerie Belvedere / Franz Smola
© Österreichische Galerie Belvedere