Residenzgalerie Salzburg AUSTRIA 19th CENTURY

DomQuartier Salzburg | Residenzgalerie Salzburg

Austria 19th century
The 19th century brought no coherent style in the sense that previous epochs did. Painting was characterised by a rich formal vocabulary, with the focus on landscape. Thus imposing panoramic views were staged as deeply-felt scenes, and depictions of nature presented without any emotive Romanticism. In the latter half of the 19th century, Austrian mood painting was characterised by the rendering of a specific season and time of day, and capturing a particular ambience. The spirit of Viennese Biedermeier was most clearly evident in the blossoming of genre painting with sharp moralising social criticism, idealising portraits of women and realistic depiction of everyday life.

Around 1830, Archduke Johann of Austria commissioned a "pictorial record of the entire country of Austria". Research was begun in the mountains – as illustrated here by the tiny staffage figures.

The 3453m-high Johannisberg – named in honour of the Archduke – lies on the border between the Austrian provinces of Salzburg and Carinthia.

The Grossglockner, with a height of 3798 metres, is the highest mountain in Austria. The striking peak is part of the Glockner Group, a mountain range in the central part of the High Tauern.

The cool colours of the ice, with a wealth of nuance, contrast effectively with the dark earth tones of the foreground.

The rendering is also an important testimony to the size of the glacier at that time, providing evidence of the surface area and the retreat of the supposedly perpetual ice.

A corpulent, extravagantly garbed couple give alms after church. Seeking attention, the man looks at the woman to make sure his generous gesture does not go unnoticed.

The gold pieces are about to drop into the tin held out by the abjectly bowing sexton.

The couple's material prosperity is evident not only in their haughty bearing, but above all in the costly fabrics of their garments: gold, lace, fur and shimmering silk.

Behind the couple, a different scene expresses true charity; a small child holds up a coin ...

... encouraged by his mother, who wears widow's weeds. A blind beggar is the recipient of the small but sincerely intended donation. The crucifix in the background emphasises the message of this act of charity.

In both spatial and colour effect, Danhauser achieves an unambiguous juxtaposition of rich and poor, using caricature in facial expressions and posture.

Cheerful, bright-eyed children scramble from a dark interior to an open window, looking expectantly straight at the viewer.

The bright sunlight casts sharply defined shadows. With his sharp chiaroscuro contrasts, the artist achieves an impressively realistic effect of the different surface textures.

The illusionistic effect of the picture is enhanced by the gesture of the boy pointing his finger at the viewer, his arm almost appearing to project from the picture.

Once again, Waldmüller demonstrates the "splendour of simplicity" with precise detail in the peeling window-frame and the crumbling wall. Delicate climbing roses mellow the poverty of the subject and reflect life in full bloom.

With the Children at the Window, Waldmüller captures a brief, unspectacular moment with convincing intensity. The children's elation and the sun's warmth can almost be experienced.

Meisterwerke. Residenzgalerie Salzburg. 2015
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