Raimund von Wichera, Portrait of a Woman With Rose

Secession was one of the last universal international styles in fine art, and it managed to enforce it's artistic form to all manifestations and matters of contemporary modern life of society...

inv. No.: O 1016

author: Raimund von Wichera
title: Portrait of a Woman With Rose
year: 1890 – 1910
technique: oil
material: canvas
dimensions: 60,5 x 45,5 cm
signature: unsigned

Secession was one of the last universal international styles in fine art, and it managed to enforce it’s artistic form to all manifestations and matters of contemporary modern life of society. It produced fashion and lifestyle at the end of 19th and the beginning of 20th century. The basis of this style was not painting or sculpture, but decorative and applied art.

Secession – in France called Art Noveau, in Germany Jugendstill, in Anglo-Saxon countries Modern Style. Apart from Paris, Nansy, Berlin, Darmstadt, Brussels, Barcelona and Glasgow, Vienna was a centre of secession, where this style was named Secession, and it’s founder was painter and printmaker Gustav Klimt /1862-1818/, who took Austrian painting to international fame.

Wichera’s “Portrait of a Woman With Rose” is characterized by a line, sinusoid,  by using which he managed to picture a natural, relaxed pose. The whole composition of the portrayed young woman shows the mastery of the “king of Viennese school”, a title attributed to him because he was the court painter of emperor Franz II and his family.

A face from profile, accurately captured by the professional submersion into the psychology of the model portrays tenderness, sincerity and innocence of youth at the same time, reflecting in her yes. The mysteriousness of this image is also enhanced by cultivated colours emerging from monochrome dimmed brown-green background, where the alabaster skin of the model young woman in the foreground has the opportunity to shine. Light luminous elements of the painting, viewed from the left side, emerge from chiaroscuro, and legibly show the contemporary female garments of the end of the 19th and beginning of 20th century, finely revealing her soft and round features. The roses decorating the chest of the portrayed woman bring a romantic, and at the same time secession attribute to the execution of the painting.

Secession as an imaginative creativity looked for it’s symbols in nature, it preferred a more natural movement and a graphic, decorative style. The work of more painters of secession was the celebration of life, nature, but most of all the woman. Painters used curved wavy line that helped their brush in modelling the feeling of airy lightness.

Raimund Ritter von Brennerstein Wichera was born in Frenštát pod Radhoštěm on 18th August 1862. Two years later, in 1864, his parents took him and his two-year old brother and moved to Hranice nad Bečvou (Moravia), where he started to paint. In 1910, Wichera permanently moved to Vienna, but continued to work as a painter in Hranice, where his parents and brother, known for his photographic studio, lived. He also spent a short time painting in Holešov and Vsetín.

He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Vienna with Prof. Hans Griepenkelr

/1839-1912/, and at the same time he graduated from a special school of figurative painting of Hans Makart /1840-1884/, an Austrian figurative painter and decorator, whose style was based on archaic historicism with neo-baroque chiaroscuro, and became a manifestation of an age reflecting the connection of noble past and the life of the present. Raimund followed on Makart, but also shifted his work further, towards a more free interpretation of the motive – an embodiment of internal feelings and the attitude of the aristocratic bourgeoisie. His works interpret a brilliant rococo lightness, just as the one in the works of Louis-Martin Bonnet /1743-1793/, a copperplate engraver and reproduction printmaker, but also built on the moderation of Ľudovít Pitthordt /1860-1946/.

Wichera dedicated his work to still-life, nude, figural compositions and mainly portrait painting. He created a number of portraits of aristocratic bourgeoisie. He was also famous for his still-lives of hunting and silver objects.

Wichera became a president of the Old Masters’ Guild in Vienna, he taught at the Academy of Fine Arts, and was an advisor of emperor Franz Joseph for fine arts, and at the same time his court painter. He regularly took part in exhibitions of Viennese academicians, and introduced his smaller works at Salons in Vienna.

By the way, Wichera was the legitimate father of a significant Slovak landscape painter and portrait painter Maximilián Schurmann /1890-1960/, who was a pupil of the famous French impressionist painter Claude Monet /1984-1926/. Max Schurmann belongs to the most significant artists of Nitra provenance, where he lived since his early childhood. Later he lived and worked in Nitra and Bratislava, in the centre of artistic events in Slovakia.

Raimund von Wichera died in Vienna, in January 1925.

In 1926, a posthumous exhibition was organised in Prague.

Marta Hučková


Hardy, Wiliam: Sprievodca secesiou [Guide to Secession]. In: Introduction. Published INA, spol. s.r.o. Bratislava, 1997, p. unpaged

Podušel, Ľ.: Maliarstvo, sochárstvo, grafika [Painting, Sculpture, Prints]. In.: Diela majstrov v NŠG [Works of Masters in NŠG]. Published by NŠG, 1995, p. 204

Foto: Slávomír Žákovič