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Beethoven-Büste, 1812 - Bronzierter Nachguß

Beethoven-Haus Bonn, P 2

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Many portraits of Beethoven are based on the mask, which was casted from Beethoven's face in 1812. Beethoven agreed when his friend Andreas Streicher asked his permission to let a mold be created from his face. The Viennese sculptor Franz Klein was commissioned to do this troublesome job. The face of the composer had to be lubricated with oil and fluid plaster had to be spread on it. Beethoven was only able to breathe through two straws that were inserted into his nostrils. The first try failed since Beethoven was afraid of suffocating under the plaster and therefore pulled it down from his face. The second try was successful though.

Franz Klein casted this negative with plaster and obtained a life mask of Beethoven that way. Based on this life mask, he created a bust, which is considered as a particular authentic portrait of the 42-year-old composer. Various copies of this sculpture exist today. They were mainly produced in the 19th century and made of plaster or bronze. The original bust had been in the possession of the Andreas Streicher family in Vienna for a long time. In 1890, a mold was made from this sculpture for the collections of the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn.(S.B.)

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