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The mystery portrait of Mozart


The British blogger and author Norman Lebrecht calls our attention to a controversy surrounding the most famous portrait of Mozart. A friend kindly alerted it to me on Facebook. It seems this portrait, pictured above, is generating quite the buzz.

It was painted by Mozart's brother-in-law Joseph Lange, who married Aloysia Weber, the girl Mozart had originally been in love with. This portrait stands out among other Mozart portraits because it is the only one that appears to hint at his genius. The others all look kind of vapid and two-dimensional.

Our authority on this portrait is Michael Lorenz, a musicologist and scholar. Looking over what he wrote he seems to be telling us that the portrait was expanded from a miniature. I will have to read it in more depth. One thing, the portrait always did look a little funny to me by the way it is unfinished but the boundary between the painted and the unpainted areas is so pronounced. It looks like a paint-by-number painting might if you had not finished it.

I like how Lorenz knows Lange's work and calls him one of the best amateur painters he has run across. It is fortunate that Mozart had his portrait painted by someone halfway decent. Other than that, Mozart was unlucky in that regard. You think of Chopin, being painted by Delacroix ... I saw this in the Louvre..


.. or the portrait of Richard Wagner by Renoir.


With Mozart we are stuck with a lot of pictures that do not hint at what he was like.

Well, at least we are learning more about the pictures we do have.

I will stay tuned!

-- Mary Kunz Goldman



Art | Music
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