In the first of these two articles, I showed my favourite paintings by Gustav Klimt, the first president of the Vienna Secession, the most influential and enduring of the art revolutions to spread across Europe at the end of the nineteenth century. Today I show some examples from other painters in that movement in Austria.
The Secession’s honorary president was Rudolf von Alt (1812–1905), who had trained in Vienna and was the most respected Austrian landscape painter of the day. He had travelled extensively in Europe, as far as Crimea, and painted some superb views of Italy. He was ennobled in 1889 for his artistic achievements.
His earlier and mature watercolours are rich in detail, as in his Altaussee Lake and Face of Mount Trissel from 1859.
Although it’s sometimes claimed that his style became looser and more ‘impressionist’ later in his career, The Old Spruce in Bad Gastein (1899) remains very detailed and precise.
Vojtěch Hynais (1854–1925) was Czech, from a family who moved to Vienna prior to his birth. He trained in Vienna, then with Anselm Feuerbach, and Jean-Léon Gérome in Paris. In addition to painting, he was a successful designer and graphic artist more generally, and is now best-known for his painting on the curtain of the Prague National Theatre.
His paintings, though, retain quite an academic style, as shown in The Judgment of Paris (1892).
Alois Delug (1859-1930) was an Austrian from Bozen who trained in Vienna. He was out of the city between 1885 and 1896, first travelling in Europe, then painting historical and religious works in Munich. Although a founder member of the Vienna Secession, the following year he resigned from it, and was appointed a professor in the Academy, eventually becoming the director of its school of painting.
Delug’s The Norns (1895) is an unusual work showing the three Norse mythical equivalents of the Fates.
Maximilian Lenz (1860-1948) was another native of Vienna who trained in the city. He painted, was active in several fields of the graphic arts, and sculpted. In the early 1890s he designed bank notes in Buenos Aires, but returned to Vienna just before the movement started. His painting style ranged from Symbolist to Naturalist.
As with several of his oil paintings, A World (1899) evokes a dream world, expressed in intense colours. This was exhibited to praise at the fourth Secession exhibition, and was shown at the Munich Secession exhibition in 1901. Lenz accompanied Klimt in his visit to Ravenna, Italy, during the winter of 1903-04.
Hugo Baar (1873–1912) was a Moravian landscape painter from the next generation of artists, who came to Vienna as a student. He was influenced by members of the Vienna Secession, particularly Klimt, which shows in several of his works.
Baar’s Waldandacht (Forest Shrine) from about 1900 is strongly reminiscent of the birch woods seen in Klimt’s holiday landscapes.
Other paintings of his, such as A Meadow Landscape with a Farm (c 1905), show greater independence. Tragically, Baar died suddenly in Munich in 1912, when he was only 39.
Koloman Moser (1868–1918) was another of the major painters and graphic artists in the Secession. Born and trained in Vienna, he was a co-founder of Wiener Werkstätte, a community workshop with purpose-designed facilities for metalwork, leatherwork, woodworking, enamelling, jewellery-making, pottery, and more. At its height, it employed over a hundred craftspeople in its Vienna premises. He was responsible for the design of successful books, postage stamps, stained glass, ceramics, glassware, tableware, furniture and jewellery.
Moser’s ink and watercolour drawing of Loïe Fuller in the Dance “The Archangel” (1902) gives an indication of the style seen in his design work.
He also painted landscapes which appear to have been influenced by Klimt’s holiday landscapes from Attersee and elsewhere, including this Pine Forest in Winter (c 1907). Moser died in the autumn of 1918, probably another victim of the influenza pandemic which killed Klimt.
After Klimt, by far the best-known artist associated with the Vienna Secession was Alphonse Mucha (1860–1939). Born in Moravia (now in the Czech Republic), he worked in Brno and specialised as a scenery painter there. From 1879, he worked in Vienna as a decorative and portrait painter, before returning to Brno. He then trained in Munich and Paris, where he was contracted to Sarah Bernhardt to produce posters advertising her stage productions.
Mucha’s idiosyncratic style, shown well in this lithograph promoting Biscuits Lefèvre-Utile (1896), rapidly became the lead for Art Nouveau.
Like Klimt, Mucha used metals for lavish and stylish frames, as shown in this Portrait of Josephine Crane Bradley as Slavia (1908), painted using the Renaissance combination of tempera and oils.
Although many of his works, like Summer (1896), used Art Nouveau style, he also painted more traditional narrative works, which are now less widely known.
This is one of the vast canvases in his epic series tracing key events in the history of the Czech people: he completed The Celebration of Svantovit in Rujana: When Gods Are at War, Salvation is in the Art in 1912. Mucha was also a gifted singer, and lifelong friend of the composer Leoš Janáček.
There were many others too: Oskar Kokoschka came to Vienna to study at the School of Arts and Crafts from 1904, but his work is still in copyright. Egon Schiele started training in Vienna in 1906, became a protégé of Gustav Klimt the following year, but died tragically young in 1918.
Curiously, though, most historical accounts of painting in Europe at this time concentrate on what was happening in France.