Nikolaus Dumba was a Greek industrialist that commissioned artworks to decorate his elegant apartment. Klimt was delegated to the music room, for which he created two paintings that would be placed above the door.
The other painting created, Music II, is highly symbolic and doesn’t portray any famous musician. For that matter, it is possible to assume that Dumba requested Schubert to be the subject matter of the other painting. Schubert was very famous at the time and becoming a popular theme among the artistic elite. It is known that he was one of Klimt’s favorite composers.
This painting is very different from other pieces from the several different eras painted by Klimt. Schubert has a realistic profile. The candles cast a warm light over his face, glasses, and nose. He is wearing dark clothes. His hands also show a great work of light and shadow, and even though the lines on this piece are not extremely defined, we have an accurate image of the composer’s face and hands. The lines of the piano are sharp and also presents beautiful areas of light and shadow.
Schubert is playing for an intimate crowd – probably people from his family or inner circle. There are two ladies and a gentleman in the back; they seem to be holding a music sheet and possibly singing. The lady in front is wearing a bulky white dress with dark details, rosy cheeks, and puffy brown hair. Side by side with her there is a lady in a voluminous bright red dress, her fiery hair shining from the candlelight behind her. On the background of these two ladies, there is the countenance of a man with a mustache. Detached from the group, on the left side, from behind the piano there is the figure of a woman that seems to be younger than the others. She also has puffy hair, but her curls are lighter. Her face is rounded and delicate, and she stares at the viewer. An interesting detail in this painting is that Klimt neglected the historical references and portrayed the ladies with contemporary dresses and hairstyles.
A small detail of the face of a man on the room on the back attributes a complex environment to this painting. The small group is probably in another area, taken from the large dark wooden door behind them.
This is one of Klimt’s pieces that was unfortunately destroyed when Schloss Immendorf was set on fire by the Germans during the Second World War, in 1945, along with other precious artworks including the piece that was created to be placed in the same room, Music II. The precise number of pieces burnt is unknown until nowadays.
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