Beethoven - In 1820

Beethoven in 1820

Beethoven's friends - Franz and Antonie Brentano - commissioned Joseph Karl Stieler (1781-1858) to paint this portrait of Beethoven.  It was created in 1820.

Because Beethoven was deaf, he used "conversation books" to communicate with people.  Individuals would write what they wished to say; Beethoven typically responded verbally.  Surviving conversation books reveal that the maestro sat for this portrait on four separate occasions. 

According to the Beethoven-Haus (Bonn), it was unusual for Beethoven to give so much time to a painting "since Beethoven is said to have been unable to sit still."

This portrait was created when Beethoven was composing his Missa Solemnis.  Note what he is holding:  a pen and a manuscript bearing the words "Missa Solemnis."  On closer inspection, the work appears to be the Credo of that famous solemn mass.

Click on the image for a greatly expanded view of the portrait.

Media Credits

Stieler's 1820 portrait of Beethoven, now maintained at the Archiv fur kunst und Geschichte, Berlin.  Image online, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


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