January 17, 2005


New Mozart Portrait Shows Worn Prodigy (Rossella Lorenzi, 1/12/05, Discovery News)

At the age of 34, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a chubby, greying man with heavy bags under tired eyes, according to a painting which has been authenticated this week by German art experts.

Painted by the German artist Johann Georg Edlinger in 1790, a year before Mozart's death in Vienna, the picture lay anonymously in the warehouse of Berlin's Gemäldegalerie until Wolfgang Seiller, an authority on the composer, spotted strong similarities between the person in the painting and Mozart.

"The gallery bought this portrait in 1934 from a Munich dealer. We thought it was just an anonymous portrait of a Munich society man. In fact, it is the last known portrait of the great composer," Rainer Michaelis, the gallery's chief curator, told reporters. [...]

According to the gallery, Mozart sat for the portrait during his last visit to Munich in 1790, when he stayed, as usual, at the Schwarzen Adler (Black Eagle) guesthouse. The artist, Edlinger, was a friend of the owner of the inn and had his studio nearby.

Wearing ill-fitting clothes, Mozart is a far cry from the child prodigy featured on Salzburg tourist brochures. Wild living and poor health must have taken their toll on his appearance: looking at the painting, it is no surprise he died of a mysterious illness just a year later.

According to Michaelis, Mozart's puffy face suggests he was treated with mercury and died either from kidney failure or syphilis.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 17, 2005 10:17 AM

Greying hair? 1790? Wouldn't that just be a wig?

Posted by: Twn at January 17, 2005 10:27 AM