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Drawings, watercolors and oil sketches from German and Austrian late Classicism. Inventory of the Graphic Collection at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Project leader:
Robert Wagner (Library and Graphic Collection)

Project team:
Cornelia Reiter

Funded by:
FWF | Einzelprojekt (P14563)

FWF | Stand-alone project
led by Robert Wagner, Library and Graphic Collection
Duration: 1.12.2000 – 30.11.2003

Following the first volume with drawings of the romantic period, the second of the 19th century catalogues appears under the stylistic heading of late classicism comprising the following three large groups of works: the drawings by Bonaventura and Camillo Genelli; the drawings by Carl Rahl who was a close friend of Bonaventura and his studio; as well as the drawings by Anselm Feuerbach which are limited to the preliminary studies for the ceiling dawings of the Large Aula of the academy building designed by Theophil Hansen. The source material that is associated with this collection of drawings can also be found in the print collection. This material was transcribed and commented on and incorporated in this catalogue.

The inventory of drawings, watercolors and oil sketches by German and Austrian artists from the late classicist period should contribute to a greater appreciation of this movement and its relevance for Vienna - and this in spite of the fact that the drawings by Carl Rahl and his studio appear to be "interspersed with neo-Baroque" elements. While neo-classicism did not survive the middle of the century in Europe, in Vienna it lived on until the beginning of the 20th century in the work of artists of the Rahl school. The intimate artistic connection between Genelli and Rahl are well documented in the inventory of the graphic collection, even if differences can be noted in the selection of themes and stylistic execution.

Both artists as well as Feuerbach who was strongly backed by Rahl share a search for the elementary and primal aspects in traditional themes, most notably Greek mythology. This art movement, generally described in retrospect, bears an enormous potential for innovation: on the one hand, in formal terms (evidenced in Genelli's arabesque-like sketches of nudes. The dynamic of the lineament recalls Gustav Klimt's drawings that were created much later) and on the other hand, the subject matter with the free, largely inspirational interpretation of traditional thematic repertory extending beyond to an "art of ideas" which continued to exert an influence into the 20th century.