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Josef Danhauser. Pictorial Narratives

Masterpieces in Focus

22 June 2011 to 25 September 2011
Upper BelvedereBelvedere

The focus of this exhibition is on Josef Danhauser (1805-1845), the storyteller. Danhauser was unrivalled when it came to translating the content of literary text, be it of a historical, religious, or purely narrative nature, into pictorial ‘language’. Spectators are thus enabled to extract entire stories from his pictures, provided that they are willing to look closely. Gestures, facial expressions, and movements are the vehicle of these pictorial narratives; there is a lot of humour and daring satire behind them, while they particularly rely on the close observation of people and the capability of visualising minor human flaws in a pointed or maybe even exaggerated manner. William Hogarth’s series The Rake’s Progress and Marriage à la mode, with their narrative wealth, rich allusions, and sharp wit, had a great impact on Josef Danhauser. Danhauser was to refer to them throughout his life, using his models in a subtle and discrete manner for his own compositions. They provided the basis of his most important works, such as

The Rich Debaucher, The Soup for the Poor, and The Reading of the Will.