Franz Klein (sculptor)

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Bust of Beethoven, by Franz Klein (1812)

Franz Klein (1779–1840[1]) was an Austrian sculptor; he was born and died in Vienna.[2] He is known particularly for his bust of Ludwig van Beethoven, made in 1812.

The life mask[edit]

Johann Andreas Streicher, pianist and piano-maker, and friend of Beethoven, supervised a private concert hall in Vienna, and in 1812 statues of musicians, sculptured by Klein, were placed in the hall. For the statue of Beethoven, Streicher commissioned Klein to make a life mask of Beethoven.[2]

Creating the mask involved spreading fluid plaster on the face; the first attempt failed, as Beethoven thought he might suffocate. The second attempt was successful. H. C. Robbins Landon has written that this life mask is "without any question, the most important documentary evidence of Beethoven's features." From the life mask, Klein made a bust of Beethoven; the eyes, hair and clothes were added by the sculptor. During the 19th century, various copies of the sculpture were made, in plaster or bronze.[1][3][4]

Later sculptors[edit]

Sculptor Anton Dietrich acquired the life mask, from which he made several busts of Beethoven, the first of them shown in 1820. After Dietrich's death the life mask was acquired by the sculptor Kaspar von Zumbusch, who created a monument of Beethoven in Vienna (1873–1880).[2][5]


  1. ^ a b Franz Klein (1779–1840), Lebendmaske Ludwig van Beethovens mit Lorbeerkranz – Anonymer Nachguß der von Franz Klein im Jahr 1812 abgenommenen Maske Beethoven-Haus Bonn, accessed 6 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Paul Nettl. "Klein, Franz". Beethoven Encyclopedia. Philosophical Library, New York 1956.
  3. ^ H. C. Robbins Landon, Beethoven: A Documentary Study, p11. Thames and Hudson 1970.
  4. ^ Franz Klein (1779–1840), Beethoven-Büste, 1812 – Bronzierter Nachguß Beethoven-Haus Bonn, accessed 6 September 2015.
  5. ^ H. C. Robbins Landon, Beethoven: A Documentary Study, p18. Thames and Hudson 1970.