Facing the Modern: The Portrait in Vienna 1900

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Facing the Modern: The Portrait in Vienna 1900

Date and time

Saturday 30th November, 10.30am - 5pm

Sainsbury Wing Theatre

Deborah Holmes, Gavin Plumley, Simon Shaw-Miller, Daniel Snowman, Raymond Coffer, Diane Silverthorne and Christopher Riopelle.

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What are the stories behind the portraits painted in Vienna around 1900?

With a focus upon the people of Vienna - their lives, loves and social habits, this study day will examine the social history of portraiture. Sessions include case studies on the literary salons of Alma Mahler and Eugenie Schwarzwald, Jewish culture and music as an agent moving between the arts.

Speakers include Deborah Holmes, Gavin Plumley, Simon Shaw-Miller, Daniel Snowman and Raymond Coffer. Chaired by Christopher Riopelle.

Please note: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Gemma Blackshaw will no longer be contributing to this event.



Introduction:  Christopher Riopelle, Curator of Post 1800 Paintings at the National Gallery


Daniel Snowman
Vienna at Fin-de-Siécle: Life, Art and Culture


Christopher Riopelle
Introducing 'Facing the Modern: The Portrait in Vienna 1900'


Discussion and questions


Break (refreshments provided)


Deborah Holmes
When is a Salon not a Salon?


Gavin Plumley
Alma: Mater, Mahler and Minx                                                                 


Discussion and questions


Lunch (not provided)                                                                          


Sarah Lenton and Margaret Stonborough
Coffee with the Wittgensteins


Simon Shaw-Miller and Christopher Riopelle
Music as an Agent Moving Between the Arts


Break (refreshments provided)


 Raymond Coffer
Gerstl's 'Nude Self Portrait with Palette'


Diane Silverthorne
Arnold Schoenberg: Composer-Painter


All speakers - plenary


Christopher Riopelle - closing remarks


About the speakers

Christopher Riopelle is the Curator of Post 1800 Paintings at the National Gallery. He previously held curatorial positions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum, California. He is the commissioning curator for 'Facing the Modern'.

Daniel Snowman is a social and cultural historian. Educated at Cambridge and Cornell, he was a Lecturer at the University of Sussex and went on to work at the BBC as Chief Producer (Radio). His books include critical portraits of the Amadeus Quartet and Plácido Domingo, and 'The Hitler Emigrés', a study of the cultural and artistic impact on Britain of the refugees from Germany and Austria. His most recent book is 'The Gilded Stage: A Social History of Opera'. Since 2004 he has held a Senior Research Fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research (London University).

For more, see www.danielsnowman.org.uk [External link]

Dr Deborah Holmes is Senior Lecturer in German at the University of Kent. She studied at New College, Oxford where she completed a DPhil in German and Italian in 2001. She was College and University lecturer in German at New College, Oxford from 2003-2004, and researcher at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for the History and Theory of Biography in Vienna from 2005 to 2010, working primarily on a biography of the philanthropist, pedagogue and journalist Eugenie Schwarzwald. Her research focuses on late 19th and early 20th century Austrian literature and culture. She has also worked on exile literature of the 1930s and 1940s, in particular the Swiss exile of the Italian novelist Iganzio Silone.

Gavin Plumley is a writer and musicologist. He is Vice President of the Gustav Mahler Society UK and has spoken at the Freud Museum, Tate, V&A, Neue Galerie New York, Royal Opera House and the Southbank Centre. He commissions and edits the English-language programme notes for the Salzburg Festival and has been published in magazines, newspapers and journals.

Simon Shaw-Miller is Chair of History of Art at the University of Bristol and was previously Professor of History of Art & Music in the School of Arts, Birkbeck College, University of London. He is an Honorary Associate and Research Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He is specifically interested in the concepts of synaesthesia, visual music, musical iconography and ekphrasis, the aesthetics of the Gesamtkunstwerk, interdisciplinarity and art and music history and theory from the early 19th century to the late 20th century.

Sarah Lenton is a lecturer and programme contributor for the Royal Opera House, English National Opera and Glyndebourne Festival Opera. She has lectured extensively on opera and theatre in the UK, Europe and Australia and written and directed many shows for the Linbury Theatre at the Royal Opera House. She appears regularly on BBC Radio 3, particularly their live opera broadcasts, and has scripted and presented many shows for them. Her credits include: Les Troyens and Giulio Cesare for Building a Library, Unsung Heroes for the Archive Hour, and Mozart the Englishman for Radio 4. She has just finished contributing to the podcasts for their entire Verdi and Wagner cycles.

Margaret Stonborough works for the Royal Opera House as writer and interviewer for their nightly programmes. She ran the events programme for the Friends of the Royal Opera House and initiated a string of shows at the Linbury Theatre which illuminated the context of the operas and ballets in the rep. 'A Spaniard in the Works', 'First Nights at the Garden,' 'Tutti Verdi,' 'Death on a Green Carpet' were all performed during her tenure. Recently, she inherited her father’s family archive and presented a mini series on BBC Radio 4 about her family – 'A Box of Wittgensteins'.

Dr Raymond Coffer is a cultural historian with a special interest in fin-de-siecle Vienna. Having been particularly drawn to the young Expressionist artist Richard Gerstl, Raymond completed his doctoral thesis at the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies at the University of London in 2011. His thesis acts as a monograph of Gerstl's works and a detailed account of his life and also presents a powerful revision of the chronology of Gerstl's works.

Dr Diane Silverthorne graduated from Birkbeck, University of London with a first-class degree in History of Art, and an MA in Cultural Memory with an emphasis on visual culture, from the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of London. She was awarded her PhD on art, design and performance in fin-de-siècle Vienna by the Royal College of Art in 2010. Her research was part of the AHRC-sponsored project, 'The Viennese Cafe and fin-de-siècle culture', awarded to Birkbeck and the RCA. Diane's research interests include 'fin-de-siècle' art and design, particularly Vienna; art and the aesthetics of space; art, music and performance in the late-19th and 20th centuries.

Image above: Detail from Gustav Klimt, 'Portrait of Amalie Zuckerkandl', 1917-18 © Belvedere, Vienna, Donated by Vita and Gustav Künstler

The events programme for 'Facing the Modern: The Portrait in Vienna 1900' is kindly supported by Martin Halusa