Felician Myrbach

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In the tavern garden (1896)

Felician Myrbach (also Felicien de Myrbach, Felician von Myrbach, from 1919 Freiherr von Rheinfeld; 19 February 1853, Zalishchyky – 14 January 1940, Klagenfurt) was an Austrian painter, graphic designer and illustrator. He was a founding member of the Vienna Secession and the director of the Applied Arts School in Vienna (now the University of Applied Arts Vienna), and was instrumental in the creation of the Wiener Werkstätte.


Illustration from Jules Verne's short story Aventures de la famille Raton (1891)

Myrbach's father was Franz Myrbach (1818–1882), the Administrator of Bukovina in 1865–70. His older brother Franz Xaver (1850–1919) was an economist and professor at the University of Innsbruck. He attended the Theresian Military Academy in 1868–71, graduating as a Leutnant, then at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna under August Eisenmenger. In 1875, he joined the 19th Feldjäger Battalion, and in 1877 became an Oberleutnant in the Military Geographic Institute, then, after campaigning in Bosnia in 1878, he taught drawing at the Infantry Cadet School in Vienna. He continued his artistic studies under C R Huber. In 1881, he went on military leave and moved to Paris, retiring totally from the military in 1884 as a Hauptmann, 2nd Class. He stayed in Paris until 1897,[1] working as an illustrator, including illustrating the works of Alphonse Daudet, Victor Hugo and Jules Verne.

Marching regiment

Myrbach was a founding member of the Vienna Secession in 1897.[2] In the same year, he became the a professor of the Applied Arts School at the Museum of Art and Industry; Arthur von Scala, another reformer Modernist, was made head of the Museum. In 1889, Myrbach became the director of the school. He brought an enthusiastic Modernist attitude and encouraged an integration between art, design and production. He added Koloman Moser and Josef Hoffmann to the staff, amongst other Secession artists. This would lead to the foundation of the Wiener Werkstätte in 1903.[3] Myrbach leant more towards an aesthetic approach than von Scala, but both worked together to bring about their combined vision of successful, popular Austrian applied art.[4] Myrbach was a voice for reform towards Modernist ideals in the School, which was started 1899 with the support of Alfred Roller, and completed by 1901.[5][6] The reform of the school has been described as his "lasting merit".[1]

In his teaching capacity at the School, Myrbach taught Alfred Gerstenbrand,[7] Hans Strohoffer,[8] Wilhelm Schmidt,[9] Walter Dittrich, Karl Thiemann and Walter Klemm;[10] he also ran schools for women, including Stephanie Glax[11] and Sophie Korner.[12] Orientalist ideas like Japanese ise-katagami stencils were included in the curriculum.[13] He was a pioneer of lithography in Vienna and taught it at the School, to Hermine Ostersetz among others.[14]

Cossacks, from Life of Napoleon Bonaparte (1906)

Myrbach was elected to the Secession's committee in 1899,[15] contributed mosaics for the 1902 Beethoven Exhibition, and served as the Secession's president in 1903. He was close to Gustav Klimt, and was part of the 'Klimt Group' that left the Secession in 1905. Ludwig Hevesi called Myrbach "probably the best [illustrator] in Vienna", partially for his work (with Moser) in the Secession magazine Ver Sacrum.[16]

Myrbach visited America on a state-funded study trip in 1904, part of which was to represent the Applied Arts School at the 1904 World's Fair in St Louis;[17] from California, he submitted his resignation to the school due to ill health.[1][18] He moved abroad in 1905, first returning to Paris and providing illustrations for Hachette, and then from 1914 living in Spain, mainly in Barcelona but also spent time in Bilbao. He returned to Austria in 1936.[19]

Myrbach created many scenes of military life, as well as bucolic pictures of farmers, horses and forests; as well, his work showed touches of Orientalism. Until 1898, he employed algraphy in his work; he painted in oil, watercolour and tempera.

Selected exhibitions[edit]

  • Gallery of Modern Artists, Paris, 1885.[20]
  • 1889 World's Fair, Paris.[21]
  • Artaria & Co salon, Vienna, 1895.[22]
  • 4th Exhibition of the Vienna Secession, 1899, showing Hurrah.[23]
  • 10th Exhibition of the Vienna Secession, 1901, showing Farmhouse.[24]
  • 13th Exhibition of the Vienna Secession, 1902, showing Pinetrees.[25]
  • Düsseldorf, 1902, showing decorative mosaics.[26]
  • 42nd Exhibition of the Royal Watercolour Society, Belgium.[27]
  • 20th Exhibition of the Vienna Secession, 1904, showing Adam and Eve.[28]


  1. ^ a b c "Vermischte Nachrichten". Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für vervielfältigende Kunst: 29–30. 1928.
  2. ^ "Ordentliche Mitglieder" [Ordinary Members]. Ver Sacrum. 1: 28. 1898.
  3. ^ Barbara Copeland Buenger; Joann Skrypzak (2003). Elvehjem Museum of Art (ed.). Design, Vienna, 1890s to 1930s. Chazen Museum of Art. p. 21. ISBN 0932900968.
  4. ^ Jeremy Howard (1996). Art Nouveau: International and National Styles in Europe. Manchester University Press. p. 68. ISBN 9780719041617.
  5. ^ Manfred Wagner (2009). Europäische Kulturgeschichte: gelebt, gedacht, vermittelt. Böhlau Verlag Wien. pp. 296–298, 644–645. ISBN 9783205777540.
  6. ^ Martina Griesser-Stermscheg (2009). Die Kunstgeschichte ergänzen: Buntmetall und elektrische Glühbirnen: die Kirchenausstattung der Donaufelder Kirche im Zeichen des Wiener Sezessionismus. Böhlau Verlag Wien. p. 116. ISBN 9783205781554.
  7. ^ Jahn, Bruno (2005). "Gerstenbrand, Alfred". Die deutschsprachige Presse: Ein biographisch-bibliographisches Handbuch. p. 330. ISBN 9783110961577.
  8. ^ Hans Ankwicz-Kleehoven (1923). "Hans Strohoffer". Die Graphischen Künste.
  9. ^ Paul Stefan (1908). "Architekt Wilhelm Schmidt". Innendekoration: Mein Heim, Mein Stolz; die Gesamte Wohnungskunst in Bild und Wort. 4: 140.
  10. ^ Karl Michael Kuzmany (1908). "Jüngere österreichische Graphiker, [2]: II. Holzschnitt": 80. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ "Glax, Stephanie". Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon. p. 88.
  12. ^ Julie M Jognson (2012). The Memory Factory: The Forgotten Women Artists of Vienna 1900. Purdue University Press. p. 384. ISBN 9781557536136.
  13. ^ Tomoko Kakuyama (2009). "Katagami-Japanese Paper Stencils and their Role in the Vienna Workshops". International Association of Societies of Design Research. Saitama University.
  14. ^ "Austellungen". Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für vervielfältigende Kunst. 2: 30. 1905.
  15. ^ "Mittheilunden der Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs". Ver Sacrum. 5: 30.
  16. ^ Ludwig Hevesi (1899). "Die Wiener Secession und ihr "Ver Sacrum"". Kunstgewerbeblatt. 8: 148.
  17. ^ Karl Eugen Schmidt (1904). "St. Louiser Ausstellungsbrief". Kunstchronik: Wochenschrift für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe: 496–497.
  18. ^ "Personalien". Kunstchronik: Wochenschrift für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe. 4: 59. 1904.
  19. ^ F. Ottmann (1941). "Nachrichten". 7. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. ^ "Concours et Expositions". La chronique des arts et de la curiosité (6): 42. 1885.
  21. ^ Revue de l'Exposition Universelle de 1889. 1889. p. 3.
  22. ^ "Sammlungen und Ausstellungen". Kunstchronik: Wochenschrift für Kunst und Kunstgewerbe. 18: 283. 1895.
  23. ^ "Liste der verkauften Werke". Ver Sacrum. 6: 32. 1899.
  24. ^ "Liste der verkauften Werke". Ver Sacrum. 12: 209–210. 1901.
  25. ^ "Mitteilungen". Ver Sacrum. 6: 107. 1902.
  26. ^ "Das Kunsthandwerk auf der Ausstellung in Düsseldorf 1902". Kunstgewerbeblatt. 2: 33.
  27. ^ "Austellungen". Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für vervielfältigende Kunst: 69. 1903.
  28. ^ B Zuckerkandl (1904). "Die 20. Ausstellung der Wiener Sezession". Die Kunst für alle: Malerei, Plastik, Graphik, Architektur. 18: 418.

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