Saturday, August 23, 2014

Emil Jakob Schindler

View of Ragusa
oil on canvas
140 x 180 cm
location unknown

Emil Jakob Schindler (1842-1892) was an Austrian landscape painter and the father of Alma Mahler who became the wife of composer Gustav Mahler. He was the son of a wealthy manufacturing family and was supposed to pursue a military career, but he chose the arts instead. He entered the Academy in Vienna at age 18.

While other local artists spent years in France and had been exposed to the plein-air style, he was more influenced by his travel within Austria, Switzerland  and Germany and study of 17th century Dutch painters. He moved away from the predominant Austrian “atmospheric realism”, and he developed a sketch-like style of painting he called “poetic realism”.

In 1887 he was awarded a major commission by the Austrian Crown Prince which included painting watercolor and ink views of coastal towns in Dalmatia and Greece. The name of the project was The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in Words and Pictures, which was to be published by the Crown. With this commission he became one of the most important painters of the imperial monarchy. In the same year he became a honorary member of the Academy in Vienna.

Less fortunate was his private life. His wife, a singer, a mother of Alma Mahler, had an affair with the family's house-mate and a new love affair with a student of Schindler and an assistant of another painter, which lasted several years. He suddenly died at the height of his fame at age 50, after doctors failed to diagnose that he suffered from appendicitis. He received an honorary grave and monument in the Wien Central Cemetery. He was arguably the most important Austrian landscape painter of the second half of the 19th century.