SCHWIND, Moritz von
(b. 1804, Wien, d. 1871, Niederpöcking)

A Symphony

Oil on canvas, 169 x 100 cm
Neue Pinakothek, Munich

Schwind was a key figure in Vienna. He was a Romantic artist and music was of great importance to him as thematic reference. In 1852 he "composed" A Symphony in oils, and provided the commentary on it himself: "The whole should be imagined as the Beethoven wall of a music room... and it is based on a composition by Beethoven, the Fantasia in C for Piano, Orchestra and Choir..." Schwind said that the individual zones of his painting, into which he wove a love story, correspond to the four movements of Beethoven's composition. At the bottom we see a chamber music rehearsal (Introduction), in which one of the young listeners falls in love with the singer; later they meet in a wood (Andante); above this again we see the young man declaring his feelings at a ball (Adagio); and finally, in the little castle, the happy husband and his bride are setting off for their honeymoon in the stronghold of bliss (Rondo).

Schwind's painting and his explanation of it indicate a basic phenomenon of the time - the combination of story and music to make program music. In Schwind's work we find the beginnings of the total work of art Wagner was to proclaim.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.