One hundred years after her death, the Belvedere honours the Viennese painter Tina Blau with an exhibition held within the framework of the series Masterpieces in Focus. From 16 December 2016 to 9 April 2017, the show, which is curated by Markus Fellinger, will present 49 paintings from all of the artist’s periods. Aside from such masterpieces as Spring in the Prater (1882, Belvedere), hitherto little-known works will be on view that have been rediscovered in the course of research conducted in the context of the artist’s catalogue raisonné. The Belvedere is the first museum in Austria to present a freely accessible online version of the catalogue raisonné of the works of Tina Blau, which has been compiled at the museum’s Research Centre.
“With this exhibition at the Belvedere, we pay tribute to the exceptional artist Tina Blau, who was not only a significant painter, but also a modern, independent, and emancipated personality. In this, she proved a role model for the future generations of young women artists,” says Agnes Husslein-Arco, Director of the Belvedere.
“Tina Blau was probably the first female Austrian artist touring and wandering through Europe in search for new motifs. In this course she studied many different artistic styles and developed a broad personal artistic repertoire. Her analytical approach and the conscious drive for creative development are visible especially in her numerous small oil paintings“, says Markus Fellinger, curator of the exhibition.
The Life and Work of Tina Blau:
Born in Vienna in 1845 the daughter of a Jewish doctor, Tina Blau numbered among the most successful landscape painters of her time. At the young age of fifteen, she took private painting lessons from a student of Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller. When she was only sixteen years old, she undertook study trips to Bohemia and Transylvania, where she painted her first large-scale landscape compositions. August Schaeffer, the future director of the imperial court’s Art History Museum, was the first to recognize the young artist’s talent. He became one of her most important patrons and also advised her to study the motifs of nature outdoors.
The young artist raised funds for a study visit in Munich, which was then a leading art metropolis, by selling one of her paintings to the Austrian Art Club. From 1870 on, following her studies in Munich, she substantially contributed to the development of so-called “atmospheric Impressionism” (Stimmungs-impressionismus) in Austria. Sharing a studio with Emil Jakob Schindler, she teamed up with him and his circle to paint unpretentious motifs en plein air, such as in the Prater and the wetlands of the Danube, her compositions reflecting a modern approach to landscape painting.
Travelling Brings New Perspectives:
During extensive stays in Hungary, Holland, Germany, France, and Switzerland, Tina Blau drew her inspirations from the latest developments in European painting. Moreover, she perfected her technique on countless motifs she encountered during her travels. In her important work Spring at the Prater (1882, Belvedere), her style had already fully matured. Informed by the rediscovery of Biedermeier’s realism, it also embraced stylistic tendencies from Impressionism. When Tina Blau received a “mention honorable” for this work at the 1883 Paris Salon, it was the only award given to an artist from abroad. The painting, which was then without precedent in Vienna, made Tina Blau an artist of European renown, and she was subsequently represented in almost all major international exhibitions.
Strong Woman – Influential Artist:
Tina Blau fervently committed herself to the support of future generations of young women artists: first as a teacher at the “Ladies’ Academy” of the Munich Art Club and later as a co-founder of and teacher at the Art School for Women and Girls in Vienna. She was also a close friend of such leading suffragettes as Rosa Mayreder, Auguste Fickert, and Marianne Hainisch.
Even at the pinnacle of her career, Tina Blau saw herself confronted with the fact that her performance as an artist was judged with regard to her sex. On the occasion of the opening of the Modern Gallery (today’s Belvedere) in 1903, the art critic Adolf Kronfeld described her masterpiece Krieau at the Prater (1902, Belvedere) in a similar vein. The critic particularly praised Tina Blau’s preparedness to leave school for outdoor nature in order to paint – a habit then practiced only by her male colleagues. However, this limited view stood in the way of a genuine appraisal of her artistic output. This is now made possible again through the Belvedere’s exhibition, staged to mark the 100th anniversary of the artist’s death.
The publication accompanying the exhibition contains several essays, such as by the art historian Claus Jesina, who deals with the artist’s changed perspective brought about by her travels and with her treatment of light in specific landscapes; Julie M. Johnson describes the exceptional position of Tina Blau as a woman artist in a world dominated by male art; and exhibition curator Markus Fellinger examines the development of her style and the significance of her “rediscovery” of Biedermeier realism.
The online edition of the Belvedere’s catalogue raisonné of the complete works of Tina Blau can be accessed at werkverzeichnisse.belvedere.at
Exhibitions held within the series “Masterpieces in Focus” are made possible with the generous support of the Dorotheum.