Wilhelm Gause (German, 1853–1916)
At the Vienna International Art Exhibition of 1882, 1882
Oil on paper, laid on canvas, 8 1/4 x 12 1/4 in.
Signed lower right: W. GAUSE
Painted in semi-grisaille (gray monochrome) for reproduction as a magazine illustration, this “snapshot” of the fashionable crowds at the Vienna International Art Exhibition of 1882 prominently features the sculptor Charles-René de Paul de Saint-Marceaux’s (1845–1915) Genius Guarding the Secret of the Tomb (1879, Musée d’Orsay, Paris). This large marble depicting a seated Genius, a guardian spirit in Roman religion, reflects the sculptor’s admiration of Michelangelo and earned Marceaux the First Medal at the Paris Salon of 1879. In 1882, the marble was displayed in the French section of the Vienna exhibition, where Gause painted it.
Gause’s image reveals how paintings were hung frame to frame in order to accommodate the sheer volume of works submitted to the Salons and World’s Fair exhibitions. Despite their often problematic viewing conditions, these displays remained premier showcases for the majority of artists throughout the 19th century.