Discover the details in this famous Beethoven painting

Never before has an artist been portrayed in such genius.

By Beethoven-House Bonn

Beethoven with the manuscript of the Missa solemnis (1820) by Joseph Karl StielerBeethoven-House Bonn

The myth of Beethoven

Most people imagine Ludwig van Beethoven to be like this picture of Joseph Karl Stieler.

Artist and revolutionary

With his eyes Beethoven looks unerringly towards new horizons, in his hands he holds the notes to his "Missa Solemnis". The painting shows Beethoven seven years before his death, at the age of 49.

Visionary view

The head is slightly lowered; the lips tightly closed; the grey, curly hairs surround the head like a lion's mane.

In the practice of his art

Unlike all other contemporary paintings, the painter shows how Beethoven works on his art.

Heroic patience

In order for every detail to fit, Beethoven had to sit model four times - and Beethoven is said to have found sitting still very difficult.

Ingenious ideas

Beethoven holds a pencil in his hand and seems to be composing on the credo of his "Missa solemnis".

In nature

A second technique is special: the painter shows Beethoven in a forest landscape. A reference to Beethoven's love of nature, which he composed in his 6th symphony ("Pastorale").

The genius

Joseph Karl Stieler's painting shaped the ideas that people still have about Beethoven today.

The painting was commissioned by Franz and Antonie Brentano, with whom Beethoven had been friends since about 1810. Today it hangs in the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn.

Antonie Brentano with her children Georg and Fanny, Nikolaus Lauer, 1809, From the collection of: Beethoven-House Bonn
Franz Brentano with his daughters Maximiliane and Josepha, Nikolaus Lauer, 1809, From the collection of: Beethoven-House Bonn
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