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Geller, Johann Nepomuk

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Johann Nepomuk Geller Sonntag am Stephansplatz in Wien

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1860 Vienna - 1954 Weissenkirchen/Danube

Title
„Sunday at St. Stephen’s Square in Vienna“
signed
lower left "Joh. Nep. Geller"
Technique
oil on canvas
Measurements
53¼×41¼ in

Excellent veduta, architectural and landscape paintings, enlivened through highly detailed, diverse figural representations characterize the work of Austrian artist Johann Nepomuk Geller. With the wonderful painting at hand, allow us to present to you a central piece of the painter’s oeuvre. One will search in vain for another view in such an imposing format as this, moreover with the world-famous motif of Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral, even in the splendid collection of works by Geller at the Vienna Belvedere. Born in Vienna in 1860, Geller is best known for his market and city scenes as well as his views of the Wachau valley. He acquired his versatile painting skills both at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (1876–78 with Christian Griepenkerl and 1888–89 with Eduard Peithner von Lichtenfels) and as an autodidact. Numerous prizes attest to the high quality of his works (e. g. 1898 Golden State Medal, 1900 World’s Fair Paris – bronze medal, 1903 Königswarter Prize, 1904 World’s Fair St. Louis – silver medal, 1911 City of Vienna Prize, 1912 Archduke Carl Ludwig Medal, 1916 and 1918 Drasche-Prize, 1918 Knight’s Cross of the Order of Franz Joseph, 1932 Silver Medal Graz, 1940 Golden Laurel of the Vienna Künstlerhaus); his works can be found in the collections of the Belvedere, Albertina, Vienna Museum and Lower Austria Museum. Geller was a member of the Vienna Künstlerhaus, the Wachauer Künstlerbund (Wachau Artists’ Association) and a founding member of the Hagenbund. Geller produced several likenesses of Emperor Franz Joseph and was awarded the Emperor’s Prize by him in 1904. The painting “Sunday at St. Stephan’s square” is a fascinating snapshot of Vienna around the turn of the century. In the left half of the picture, we find the North Tower of St. Stephen’s Cathedral with St. Barbara’s Chapel and the Capistran Chancel, and on the right-hand side we see the Archbishop’s Palace. In the background, we can make out the Thonethof (constructed in 1882/83, today the Kennedyhof is on this site). The foreground is enriched with a masterfully composed staffage of figures. With the help of the white tones of the festive clothing and the awnings of the market booths, Geller skillfully guides the gaze of the observer through this virtuoso cityscape.

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