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Ludwig van Beethoven, 1804 - Fotografie von Rudolf Stepanek nach dem Gemälde von Willibrord Joseph Mähler

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, B 1514

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The painter Willibrord Joseph Mähler lived in Vienna and he painted four portraits of Ludwig van Beethoven. He painted the first of his four portraits in 1804, when the then 34-year-old musician was at the peak of his public success as pianist in Vienna.

This is the only authentic portrait of Beethoven, which shows the composer's whole body. Beethoven is sitting surrounded by an idyllic scenery, and a temple of the ancient world can be seen in the background. In his left hand he holds a lyre, the symbol of Apoll the God of leisure. His right hand is reaching out to the observer with an almost imploring gesture.

Apparently, Beethoven himself liked this portrait very much, since he took it with him whenever he moved to another place, and he kept it until his death. Also, the portrait was very well received by his contemporaries, as can be seen from a letter, Beethoven wrote to Mähler. He mentioned in this letter, that an "unknown lady" had expressed her deep admiration for the portrait.(S.B.)

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