Phase 2: 1906 – June 1907
Having finally completed his Akademie education in summer 1905, the first half of 1906 brought a series of events that would change the direction of Gerstl’s life. The year began with Vienna’s first extensive exhibition of van Gogh’s works at Galerie Miethke (click here for illustrated catalogue), when the 45 pictures on show clearly had an impact on Gerstl’s art. Then, in February, Gerstl, despite his acrimonious exit from Griepenkerl’s class the previous summer, was persuaded, on the promise of the use of his own personal studio, to return to the Akademie to join Professor Heinrich Lefler, who had seen Gerstl’s Die Schwestern Fey hanging in Viktor Hammer’s studio, and whose Systemisierte Spezialschule für Landschaftsmalerei would attend until summer 1908. At the same time, Gerstl had been approaching musicians and composers, including Mahler and Conrad Ansorge, with a view to painting their portrait. Unsurprisingly then, Gerstl appears to have been happy to accept, when, around May 1906, Schönberg, apparently with Lefler’s recommendation, invited the young painter to enter the Schönberg family apartment on the third floor of Liechtensteinstraße 68/70, IX, not only to teach the composer and his wife, Mathilde, to paint but to also produce life-size portraits of both (see RG11/12). There followed a period that culminated with Gerstl accompanying Schönberg and his family to their summer 1907 vacation in Gmunden, a spa on the stunning glacier lake, the Traunsee, just south of Salzburg. In the interim, Schönberg may have facilitated a number of portrait commissions amongst his circle for Gerstl, which are amongst some 25 paintings that can be attributed to the eighteen month period from the beginning of 1906 to June 1907, and are illustrated below.
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Alternatively click for: 1902-1905 ♦ ♦ Gmunden 1907 ♦ ♦ Autumn 1907-Spring 1908 ♦ ♦ Summer 1908-Suicide
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RG10 Idealbildnis der Trude Geiringer, 10 February 1906
Pencil, ink and watercolour on paper, 19.5 x 12.4 cms. Galerie St. Etienne, New York
Dated “10.Febr.1906” and signed “Richard Gerstl” in Trude’s “Stammbuch”, possibly as a 16th birthday present, so presumably sketched in Trude’s apartment at Kärntnerring 2, Vienna I.
Not known to Kallir. Thesis – pp. 92-93
RG11 Arnold Schönberg, Spring/summer 1906
Oil on canvas, 182 x 130 cms, inscribed verso: “RG IX., Nußdorferstraße 35”. Wien Museum
Painted in the Schönbergs’ apartment, 68/70 Liechtensteinstraße, Vienna I, probably in May 1906, after Gerstl was invited into the Schönberg family house to teach Schönberg and Mathilde to paint.
Not known to Kallir. Thesis – pp. 93-98
RG12 Doppelbildnis Mathilde und Gertrud Schönberg, ca. June 1906
Oil on canvas, 150.5 x 108.5 cms. Österreichische Galerie Belvedere
Painted in the Schönbergs’ apartment, 68/70 Liechtensteinstraße, Vienna I, probably in June 1906 (see thesis (pp. 93-98) for evidence).
Not known to Kallir. Thesis – pp. 93-98.
RG13 Bildnis einer jungen Frau mit Federhut, early 1906
verso RG35 Sitzender Frauenakt.Oil on canvas, 166 x 116 cms. Leopold Museum
Whilst difficult to date, this work’s pose, setting, scale and detail suggest that it came around the same time as the two portraits above, and may even have acted as template for Arnold Schönberg itself
Kallir 51 – exhibited (verso Sitzender Frauenakt) at Neue Galerie from opening, 28.9.1931. Thesis – p. 107.
RG16 Grinzing, spring 1906, Oil on canvas, 40.2 x 39.7 cms, Galerie St. Etienne, New York. Probably an academic study, painted in Grinzing, Vienna IXX shortly after Gerstl joined Lefler’s Systemisierte Spezialschule für Landschaftsmalerei. Kallir 14, but not exhibited at Neue Galerie, 1931. Thesis – p. 109
RG20 Emil Gerstl, summer 1906.
Oil on canvas, 209 x 150 cms. Leopold Museum A powerful display of the divisionist tendencies that, for a short time, dominated his works, Gerstl portrays his father in summer 1906 (according to Breicha), as an old (72), weary man, sitting in his study in Nußdorferstraße 35 against the façade of the sunbathed Säulengasse building depicted opposite through the south-facing window. Not known to Kallir. Thesis – p.111.
RG28 Selbstbildnis mit Palette, autumn/winter 1906/7
Oil on canvas,186.5 x 58.5 cms. Inscribed verso: “Richard Gerstl IX., Nußdorferstraße 35”. Wien Museum. Gerstl presents himself here as smartly attired, bow-tied and well-groomed, with long, wavy hair, an image that, whilst radically changed later, he appears to have maintained before summer 1907 (see A Life in Pictures). The impression is of one whose new social and academic environment had endowed in him the determined, efficient and confident demeanour of a serious, even professional artist, surrounded by his paraphernalia and his 1902 blue self-portrait hung behind him. In its dimensions and high, narrow format, and even, perhaps, in its pose, too, the work displays some affinity with RG18 Ernst Diez:1, which, in view of its absence from Selbstbildnis mit Palette, may not yet have been painted. This suggests that the work may have come before Diez, quite possibly in the same Gumpendorferstraße studio , that Gerstl occupied around summer/autumn 1906 (see RG18 Ernst Diez:1 below), where the light on Gerstl’s face and head, together with the deliberate shadow behind his legs, would appear to be compatible with the direction and intensity that the studio’s high ceilings and double-storey windows would have provided. Kallir 45 – exhibited at Neue Galerie from opening, 28.9.1931. Thesis – pp. 118-120.
RG18 Ernst Diez:1, autumn 1906.
Tempera and oil on canvas, 184.5 x 73 cms. Österreichische Galerie Belvedere
Diez, who was Schönberg’s student, Anton Webern’s first cousin, wrote, in a letter to Breicha, that this was one of two portraits that Gerstl painted of him in 1906, almost certainly after Diez had returned from a placement in Rome that autumn. Diez claims that the portrait was originally intended to be a commission, organised by Schönberg, who had apparently decided to help Gerstl obtain work amongst his circle. Diez recalls that the work was painted in a temporary studio, whose description matches one above Café Sperl at Gumpendorferstraße 11 that, according to Hammer’s letter to Breicha, may have been one that Gerstl occupied at the time. Kallir 41 – exhibited at Neue Galerie from opening, 28.9.1931. Thesis – pp. 112-113
RG85 Ernst Diez:2, autumn 1906
The second portrait mentioned in Diez’s letter, this was (according to Breicha) a seated, presumably large or life-size, portrait, again painted at Gerstl’s temporary studio, above Café Sperl at Gumpendorferstraße 11 (see RG18). There remains no other trace of the work. Not known to Kallir. Thesis – p. 112-113
RG19 Bildnis eines Leutnants (Alois Gerstl), autumn 1906
Oil on canvas, 150 x 125 cms. Leopold Museum. Alois insisted that this was painted in 1906 after he had been promoted to Lieutenant, and that it required at least 10 sittings, presumably at the Gerstl’s apartment, almost certainly in autumn 1906. Kallir dissected the original and exhibited it as two works, Interieur and Bildnis eines Leutnants), (Kallir 43/44) at Neue Galerie from 17.10.1931. Thesis – pp. 109-110
RG25 Smaragda Berg, winter 1906/7
Oil on canvas, 195 x 137 cms. Private.
Gerstl painted his friend Smaragda Berg, the sister of Schönberg’s student, Alban Berg, at the Berg family Stadtvilla, Hietzinger Hauptstraße 6, Vienna XIII, in winter 1906, probably just before Christmas..
Not known to Kallir.
Thesis – pp. 115-116.
RG14 Mutter und Tochter, late 1906.
Oil on canvas, 145 x 120 cms. Wien Museum
Almost certainly painted in Vienna, probably in late 1906, this is one of a series of pointillistic, domestic portraits, possibly commissions recommended by Schönberg, that appear to come stylistically after Gerstl’s depiction of Schönberg himself and perhaps Alois, too. Kallir 53, but not exhibited at Neue Galerie, 1931. Thesis – pp. 72-74
RG21 Selbsbildnis, winter 1906/1907
Ink on paper, 45 x 31.5 cms. Private. This appears to be one of a series of self-portraits, drawn by Gerstl around winter 1906. These included RG23 (q.v.), originally presented as a gift to Schönberg’s student, Heinrich Jalowetz, whose wife Johanna confirmed to Breicha that it was sketched in winter 1906/1907.
Kallir 60 – exhibited at Neue Galerie from opening, 28.9.1931. Thesis – pp. 114-115.
RG22 Selbsbildnis, Winter 1906/1907
Ink on paper, 46 x 31 cms. Private
Another of the series of self-portraits, drawn by Gerstl around winter 1906 (see RG21 above).
Kallir 61 – exhibited at Neue Galerie from opening, 28.9.1931. Thesis – pp. 114-115.
RG23 Selbsbildnis, Winter 1906/1907
Ink on paper, 34.5 x 26. Private
Another of Gerstl’s self-portraits from around winter 1906. This drawing was owned by Johanna, wife of Schönberg’s student, Heinrich Jalowetz, who, in a letter to Breicha, dated 20 June 1962, wrote that this work was a gift from Gerstl and was sketched in winter 1906/1907 (also see RG21 above).
Not known to Kallir. Thesis – pp. 114-115.
RG24 Selbsbildnis , Winter 1906/1907.
Ink on paper, 44.5 x 31.6 cms. Albertina, Vienna. The fourth of Gerstl’s sketched self-portraits from around winter 1906. Just eight of Gertsl’s drawings exist, and although Kallir suggested that Gerstl burned some himself, Karl Stark claims that Gerstl’s oldest brother, August, with whom Richard had an unhealthy relationship, destroyed many. Similarly, Breicha believed that a number were lost as a result of residential moves after Gerstl’s death.
Kallir 62 – exhibited at Neue Galerie from opening, 28.9.1931. Thesis – pp. 114-115.
RG88 Portrait of Heinrich Jalowetz, oil on canvas, ca. winter 1906/1907. Lost. Jalowetz’s wife, Johanna, reported in her letter of 20 June 1962 (see RG23) that around winter 1906/1907, Gerstl painted to order a life-size portrait of her husband. which disappeared from safe custody in Vienna after the Jalowetzs’s 1938 emigration to USA. There remains no other trace of the work. Not known to Kallir. Thesis – pp. 114-115,
RG29 Selbstbildnis vor dem Ofen, winter 1906/7. Oil on canvas, 69 x 55 cms, recto RG30 Selbstbildnis (Studie) (see below). Neue Galerie, New York. As with RG28 Selbstbidnis mit Palette (see above), Gerstl presents himself as smartly attired and well-groomed, with long, wavy hair. His 1902 blue self-portrait and his 1902 Ernst Diez:1 hang behind him, which would confirm this work was painted after autumn 1906, most probably in Gerstl’s Akademie studio. Kallir 22 – exhibited at Neue Galerie from opening, 28.9.1931. Thesis – pp. 118-120.
RG30 Selbstbildnis (Studie), winter 1906/7, recto RG30 Selbstbildnis vor dem Ofen (above). Leimfarbe (distemper) on canvas, 69 x 55 cms. Neue Galerie, NY. This self-portrait, and RG31 Kleines Selbstbildnis (below), probably came sometime in 1906 or early 1907, and, painted in quick-drying “Leimfarbe” entirely within its stretcher, would have enabled Gerstl to proceed quickly to Selbstbildnis vor dem Ofen (above), for which this may have been a preliminary study. Kallir 22 – exhibited at Neue Galerie from opening, 28.9.1931. Thesis – pp. 120-121.
RG31 Kleines Selbstbildnis, winter 1906/7.
recto RG32 Frauenkopf. Oil on canvas, 49 x 37 cms. Stiftung Sammlung Kamm – Kunsthaus Zug. Kleines Selbstbildnis bears obvious comparison to RG30 Selbstbildnis (Studie) (above) and was probably painted likewise sometime in 1906 or early 1907. Although unfinished, it is an authentic oil, in which Gerstl applied pastos colours onto unprimed canvas. Kallir 53 – exhibited at Neue Galerie from opening, 28.9.1931. Thesis – pp. 120-121
RG15 Dame mit Federhut, early 1907.
Oil on canvas, 99 x 79.7 cms. Private.
An unidentified subject, this may be another of the intimate domestic commissions that Gerstl appears to have undertaken following his introduction into Schönberg’s circle. In the outline of the subject’s body and hands, Gerstl begins to dematerialise form, a technique that would come to the fore in his 1908 Gmunden portraits.
Kallir 53, but not exhibited at Neue Galerie, 1931. Thesis – pp. 107-108
RG17 Zahnradbahn auf den Kahlenberg, spring 1907. Oil on canvas, 55 x 69 cms. Österreichische Galerie Belvedere The short hill railway above Nußdorf with clear van Gogh influences, this predicts Gerstl’s Gmunden landscapes from summer 1907 (q.v.). Kallir 26 – exhibited at Neue Galerie from opening, 28.9.1931. Thesis – p. 109.
RG26 Die Sängerin Oberländer, spring 1907.
Oil on canvas, 184.5 x 90.5 cms. Destroyed in WWII.
Apparently, a pointillistic, life-size portrait of the soprano, Helene Oberländer as Tosca. Probably arranged by Zemlinsky for whom Oberländer sang in Tosca’s Vienna premiere at the Volksoper on 4 May 1907 (see image). Kallir 50 – exhibited at Neue Galerie from 17.10.1931. Thesis – p. 117.
RG27 Herrenbildnis, winter/spring 1907.
Oil on canvas, 200.5 x 105 cms. Private.
Exhibited for the first time in 1998, the subject has recently been described as the portrait of a Czechoslovakian button manufacturer commissioned by the sitter. However, doubts, notably expressed by Breicha, exist over whether the work is actually Gerstl’s. Conversely, if it was painted by Gerstl, its emphatic pointillist credentials and narrow, life-size format suggest that it could have come during winter/spring 1907, at a time when Gerstl apparently undertook other commissions.
Not known to Kallir. Thesis – p. 117.
RG33 Selbstbildnis (Kniestück), Spring/summer 1907. Oil on artboard, 100 x 72 cms. Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Innsbruck. The first of ten existing works painted by Gerstl on “Karton” or artboard (see Appendix B(i) of Thesis), this suggests itself as coming stylistically, from spring/summer 1907, or, as Breicha writes, “at the beginning of Gerstl’s impressionistic phase”. Gerstl, executed the work with a quick hand, leaving areas of the board exposed and, in broadening his recent precise pointillism into random dabs and flecks, anticipates his 1907 Gmunden landscapes. Kallir 35 – exhibited at Neue Galerie from 17.10.1931. Thesis – p. 117.
RG 71 Selbstbildnis, probably summer/autumn 1907, but possibly 1908. Recto RG72 Selbstbildnis. Sepia on paper, 40 x 29.9 cms. Wien Museum. This drawing is usually juxtaposed with with three dated sketches (RG72-74), all presumed to have been drawn in September 1908. This self-portrait, however, although found verso RG72, has little in common with Gerstl’s appearance in the three other drawings and its more likely dating, therefore, is summer 1907, although summer 1908 cannot be discounted.
Kallir 58 – exhibited at Neue Galerie from opening, 28.9.1931. Thesis – pp. 293-294.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
1906-June 1907: Trude Geiringer ♦ ♦ Schönberg ♦ ♦ Mathilde und Gertrud ♦ ♦ Frau mit Federhut ♦ ♦ Grinzing ♦ ♦ Emil Gerstl ♦ ♦ Selbsbildnis mit Palette ♦ ♦ Diez ♦ ♦ Alois Gerstl ♦ ♦ Smaragda Berg ♦ ♦ Mutter und Tochter ♦ ♦ Selbsbildnis Drawing/1 ♦ ♦ Selbsbildnis Drawing/2 ♦ ♦ Selbsbildnis Drawing/3 ♦ ♦ Selbsbildnis Drawing/4 ♦ ♦ vor dem Ofen ♦ ♦ Selbstbildnis (Studie) ♦ ♦ Kleines Selbstbildnis ♦ ♦ Dame mit Federhut ♦ ♦ Kahlenberg ♦ ♦ Oberländer ♦ ♦ Herrenbildnis ♦ ♦ Kniestück ♦ ♦ Selbsbildnis Drawing/2
Gmunden 1907: Obstbaum mit Holzstützen ♦ ♦ Blumenwiese ♦ ♦ Gartenbild ♦ ♦ Baum im Garten ♦ ♦ Prillinger ♦ ♦ Uferpromenade ♦ ♦ Obstbaum ♦ ♦ Baumstudie ♦ ♦ Gartenzaun ♦ ♦ Mathilde Schönberg:II ♦ ♦ Traunseelandschaft ♦ ♦ Baum am Traunsee ♦ ♦ Schlafender Griechin ♦ ♦ Landschaftsstudie ♦ ♦ Selbstbildnis, lachend (1907)
Autumn 1907-Spring 1908: Self 15 September ♦ ♦ Self 29 September/1 ♦ ♦ Self 29 September/2 ♦ ♦ Liechtensteinpalais ♦ ♦ Donaukanal ♦ ♦ Nußdorf ♦ ♦ Sitzende Frau ♦ ♦ Sitzende Mann ♦ ♦ Mathilde im Atelier ♦ ♦ Halbfigurenportrait ♦ ♦ Henryka Cohn
Gmunden 1908-Suicide: Alban Berg? ♦ ♦ Traunseelandschaft 1908 ♦ ♦ Doppelbildnis ♦ ♦ Zemlinsky ♦ ♦ Mathilde im Garten ♦ ♦ Familie Schönberg ♦ ♦ Gruppenbildnis ♦ ♦ Akt im Freien ♦ ♦ Nußdorferstraße ♦ ♦ Zimmer ♦ ♦ Maria Gerstl ♦ ♦ Halbakt ♦ ♦ Selbstbildnis 12 September 1908 ♦ ♦ Frauenakt