William Clarke Rice’s “Gerstl”

 William Clarke Rice’s portrait of Gerstl, Gmunden, July 1907

Rice’s portrait is the only known depiction of Gerstl by another artist. It can almost certainly be ascribed to Gmunden during the first weeks of July 1907, simply because, having arrived in Gmunden with his wife, Melanie Guttmann (Zemlinsky’s sister-in-law and Schönberg’s good friend) on their honeymoon on 30 June 1907, this was the first and only time that the American Rice visited Austria. Indeed, by 23 July 1907, Rice had left Gmunden for Rome, where he was later joined there by Melanie, before returning to America together from Genoa. His portrait of Gerstl was plainly, presumably in view of the wet weather, painted inside, and is an example of the friendships and association that Gerstl had developed within the Schönberg circle by then. His Selbstbildnis, lachend, wherein his self-portrayal bears striking similarities to Rice’s portrait, can be assumed to have been being painted within a few weeks, not least because Gerstl’s appearance was, within months, somewhat different (see A Life in Pictures).

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