Eduard Veith painted a stylized portrait of an unknown woman from a profile, in a naturalist rendition at the end of 19th C - in the period when artists expression was dominated by Art Nouveau line characterized by a smooth undulated line...
Article No.: K 147
Autor: Eduard Veith
Work Title: A Head of a Woman
Year of Origin: 1880 – 1900
Technique: a drawing with white oil
Material: cardboard with black surface
Dimensions: 31 x 20.7 cm
Marked: in the right bottom corner, vertically: VEITH
Eduard Veith painted a stylized portrait of an unknown woman from a profile, in a naturalist rendition at the end of 19th C – in the period when artists expression was dominated by Art Nouveau line characterized by a smooth undulated line. The line makes an impression of nonviolent movement because it refuses the rule of a straight line and as being convoluted it brings the feeling of airy lightness, grace, and freedom on a surface whose monotonous quality is balanced by its colour. Art Nouveau searches for unusual colour shades and combines them according to the principle of harmony and contrast. The line and colour lose their local function and acquire a symbolical value. The central sign is stylisation. On one hand Art Nouveau tries to regenerate and refresh the life on the other hand its focus is on decadence, cynicism even morbidity, it symbolized the escape from reality into the world of dream and fantasy, employing the cult of eroticism and death. It examines emotional moods, is introvert and also optimistic, explosive and energetic, but also internally controversial and complicated.
A woman, a representative of spiritual values, was the central theme in Art Nouveau. Colour schemes acquired certain symbolics in Art Nouveau paintings. Veith’s Head of a Woman presented in black and greyish blue evokes fantastic world, unreality even morbidity. The portrait visually reminds us of works painted in a technique grisaille1. The discussed work might be one work from the cycle of independent studies created in connection with the painter’s participation monumental decorations of representative buildings of the city of Brno.
Eduard Veith belongs among central European artists who have not been discussed for a long time. He, however, together with Julius Berger (1850-1902) or Hugo Baar (1873-1912) was one the most remarkable Moravian Austrians or German Moravians in Vienna.
This painter and extraordinary representative of the artistic generation from the end of 19thC was known as an author of decorative interior paintings and illuminations in important Europan theatres in Ostrava, Brno, Berlin and Vienna. Veith’s works, in the form of frescos or paintings, can be found in Buchurest, Paris and his native town of Nový Jičín. He also contributed to decorations of Rudolfinum in Prague or Maria Theresein Zimmer in Vienna Hofburg. It is known that the author was awarded the first prize for his sketch he did for the German theatre in Prague, present State Opera where he painted eight ceiling paintings and the curtain. They belong among his most famous works in the Czech Republic today.
Eduard Veith was born on March 30, 1858 in Nový Jičín. He received his art education in 1874 – 1878 at the School of Applied Arts in Vienna where he studied under the guidance of Ferdinand Laufberg. After finishing his studies he worked independently in Vienna where in addition to his free painting he specialized in production of illusory theatre decorations and stage designs. He co-operated with the famous Vienna construction company Feller and Helmer that built tens theatres and opera buildings in Austro-Hungarian monarchy from Karlovy Vary to Lviv.
Eduard Veith died in Vienna on March 18, 1925.
Photo: Slávomír Žákovič
1 Grisaille (from French gris – grey) is usually a monochromatic painting mostly in the shades of grey. It can also refer to the first stage of painting
Podušel, Ľ.: Maliarstvo, sochárstvo, grafika. Nitrianska galéria, 1995, str.44
Valenta, J.: Malované opony divadel českých zemí, Praha, NIPOS, 2010, str. 40
Nitra, April 24, 2013