Artists Illustrating Boys' Fashions: Martin van Meytens (Austria, 1659-17??)

Figure 1.--One of the principal palaces of the Hapsburgs was the Summer Palace of Schönbrunn. It was here Mozart played harpsichortd in the " Chambre des glaces " for Maria Theresia (October 1762). She was very impresed by this little prodigy of only 6 years old. At the end of his performance , he climbed on her knees, throwd his arms round her neck and kissed Maria Theresia! Wolfgang ( Wolfi was his nickname ) became popular and appreciatedd by the Court of Francis (Franz) I. Maria Theresia wanted Wolfi was present on a huge painting made on the occassion of the marriage of her son Joseph II with Isabella von Bourbon Parma (1760). I think this is the Empress next to Wofi. A detail of that painting is seen here. Wolfi is the only child in the painting. He couldn't be present the day of the marriage in 1760. He was too young and unknow ti the court. Later when the painting was done, Maria Theresia insisted that he be added. This is a detail of one of the four paintings covering each of the four walls of the " Salle des Carrousel " with many detail on garments, porcelain , rooms, ect. The paintings were the work of Martin van Meytens who needed several years to complete the project.

This Sweedish-born painter lived ans worked in Vienna, Austria. He studied under his father, the painter Martin van Meytens the Elder. He traveled throughout Europe stydying art. He lived and worked for a long time in Rome and Turin. At first he spealized in little enamel miniature portraits. He changed to oil painting only around 1730, having settled in Vienna. Here he became very popular as a portrait painter. He became a court painter in 1732 and in 1759 became the director of the Viennese Academy of Fine Arts. He did many masterfull portaraits of Emperess Maria Theresa, including one particularly nice work of her family.


We know nothing of his childhood.


Martin like many early painters began to learn his craft with his father, the painter Martin van Meytens the Elder. The family had moved from The Hague to Sweden. An important part of his artistic education was an early study trip, visiting London, Paris and Vienna. He then worked for a long time in Rome and Turin).


Von Meyten's early specialty was realtively inexpensive little enamel miniature portraits. As his reputation grew, he changed to more conventional oil painting only around 1730, having settled in Vienna. Here he became very popular as a portrait painter in the circles of the court and the aristocracy. He was appointed a court painter in 1732. Besides courtly portraits rather in the French style, he also did large family portraits and portraits of the dynasty. He also received commissions to do pictorial representation of historical events and important royal ceremonies. His reputation continued to grow and in 1759, he was appointed director of the prestigious Viennese Academy of Fine Arts.


We know nothing of his family life at this time.


Meytens in considered to be one of the most significant Austrian painters of his era. He is a representative of Baroque courtly portraits. His paintings provide a wonderfull view of Maria Theresa and her court. He trained many pupils and through them and his many followers, his influence and a long-lasting impact on Austrian art.


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Created: July 29, 2001
Last updated: April 23, 2004