There are many very famous paintings by Gustav that will be posted today, on his 150th birthday; I, however, chose the less famous and quite an early one, that I love very much for the story that goes with it :The Old Burgtheater :)
The old theatre was founded by Empress Maria Theresa and was a place of such historical and important premiers as Mozart’s operas The Abduction from the Seraglio, The Marriage of Figaro, Così fan tutte or Beethoven’s 1st Symphony. The Viennese loved their old theatre and although aware of the fact that the city needed a new building for it - fell quite into despair when time to say good bye to it arrived. In one of my favourite books - Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday - the writer describes just how important the old Burgtheater really was to the Viennese, their love and self-identification with it that are not just almost incomprehensible to us today, with this time distance, but that were even in their own time considered somewhat bizarre to all that were not from this city. Thus he describes how on a day that it was torn down, half of Vienna came sombre looking and sad, as if that was someone’s funeral; after the last performance, he says, after the last note died out, everybody rushed onto the stage to grab at least a piece of wood from it, as a memory. For decades, Zweig writes, you could see parts of the old Burgtheater in peoples homes, exhibited almost as a piece of relic.
This painting was started in 1888. the year that the Austrian national theatre moved from this old building to the new one on Ringstraße. For his work on this new theater Klimt received the Golden order of Merit from Emperor Franz Josef I.
Zuschauerraum im alten Burgtheater in Wien 1888, by Gustav Klimt, the photograph of the outside of the old building and the new one on Ringstraße, right after its construction.