Unique portrait of Gustav Mahler

[Mahler, Gustav]. Spitzer, Friedrich Viktor, photographer and industrialist (1854-1922). Portrait of Gustav Mahler.

Vienna, 1905.

Gum bichromate print (vintage), 223 x 164 mm. Monogrammed and dated by the artist in red ink at lower right. Matted, framed and glazed.


Portrait of the 45-year-old Mahler during the heyday of his directorship at the Vienna Court Opera, three years after his wedding to Alma Schindler. One of the extremely rare works by the sugar industrialist and collector Friedrich Spitzer, who since 1895 had devoted himself to a close study of experimental photographic processes, especially gum bichromate printing - a multi-layered method that accommodated the needs of fin-de-siècle artistic photography in that it allowed for a high degree of creative freedom during every step of the process, making every resulting print a unique work of art.

Spitzer, who cultivated an image as a dandy, was a member of Vienna's modernist art scene around the turn of the century. He was accepted into the renowned London photographic society "Linked Ring" as early as 1892 and joined Vienna's "Camera Club" in 1897. For his small but expressive and technically brilliant body of work he is remembered as one of the principal Austrian artistic photographers of his age.

The present portrait of Mahler was shown at Spitzer's only exhibition, at Vienna's Miethke Gallery in 1907. The artist's autograph signature with the date "05" is usually cropped from the published reproductions.

Perfectly preserved; framed under museum glass.


Illustrated in: Photographische Rundschau und Photographisches Zentralblatt, Zeitschrift für Freunde der Photographie 20 (1906), plates. Christine Kühn, Kunstfotografie um 1900. Die Sammlung Fritz Matthies-Masuren, 1873-1938, exhibition catalogue Kunstbibliothek Berlin, 25.4.-15.6. 2003, p. 137. Gilbert E. Kaplan, Das Mahler Album (Vienna: Brandstätter, 1995, erroneously described). First exhibited: Galerie Miethke, cat. Skulpturen von Ilse Conrat u. künstlerische Fotografien von Prof. Heinr. Kühn und Dr. F. V. Spitzer (1907), no. 122. Cf. Gerd Pichler, "Joseph Maria Olbrichs nie gebaute Künstlerkolonie in Wien und Josef Hoffmanns Künstlerkolonie auf der Hohen Warte", in: ICOMOS 64 (2017), pp. 83-88.

Stock Code: BN#53591 Tags: , , , ,