The publishing house Beitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig played a key role in the publication of Beethoven’s works. First contacts with Beethoven were established in 1801 and a long-term association began in 1808. One of the partners of the publishing company, Gottfried Christoph Härtel (1763-1827), commissioned a portrait of the composer from Georg Waldmüller in 1823. A lively exchange of letters and entries in Beethoven’s conversation notebooks give us insight into how the painting came about. Beethoven reluctantly gave his approval to the portaiture, but there was just one sitting. Nonetheless, a second version of the portrait was finished and was sent to Leipzig a little later. Here it fell victim to a fire in the premises of the publishers during the bombing of the town in the Second World War. Stylistic analyses suggest that the portrait shown here is the unfinished first version that was painted at the sitting described above. Compared with the second version, known through colour reproductions, it appears more spontaneous and less polished. (rh)
Lit.: Rudolf Hopfner: Masterpieces from the Collection of Historic Musical Instruments. A Short Guide through the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Vol. 1, Vienna 2019.
oil on canvas
840 mm x 750 mm x 100 mm
Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente
Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente, 1000
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