Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller

In addition to the glorious permanent collection of the Belvedere in Vienna, we enjoyed seeing an impressive special exhibit there, too-- the Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller Retrospective.

I was not familiar with Waldmüller before, but I instantly admired his paintings on first sight. The retrospective featured around 120 of his realist paintings, including portraits, landscapes, and scenes of everyday rural life in the changing society of Austria during the mid-1800s. Waldmüller influenced the later Pre-Raphaelite painters of England who favored Waldmüller's spontaneous painting methods and careful observation of nature.  

My favorite piece in the exhibit was this portrait that was also selected as one of the two poster images advertising the show throughout Vienna:

The young woman's slouching pose is very informal compared to the postured poses of the rest of Waldmüller's commissioned portraits. Although her pose may have been a flagrant disregard for the very stiff conventional manners of her time, the more natural pose and direct, thoughtful gaze makes her absolutely alive.