Landscape painter Tina Blau
19th century Austrian Impressionist artist
19th century Austrian Impressionist artist
Tina Blau - born on 15 November 1845 in Vienna - was one of the most important landscape painters in Austria. She belongs to the Austrian art style 'Stimmungsimpressionisten' (maybe translated as 'Atmospheric Impressionism'), a term describing the focus of her chosen artistic motifs on landscape and still-life painting.
She became interested in painting at a very early age and was inspired throughout her life by the landscapes around Vienna, especially the Vienna Prater park and its environs.
Tina Blau was born in times of upheaval. The uprisings of the revolutionary year 1848 - which demanded freedom for press, speech and expression - followed three years after her birth. The revolution was bloodily crushed, but some demands were implemented and brought some changes – not with immediate effect, but over time.
These changes and adaptations to the catalogue of wishes of the revolutionary forces primarily affected the realities of life for men. Women's rights were at best peripherally thought of during this time, so the challenges in Tina Blau's life read like a sign of the times at many crucial moments. Women were excluded from independent public life until the beginning of the 20th century. Women were not able to choose a course of study, rent a studio, marry among different denominations, make economic decisions or participate politically or be members in political associations.
Tina Blau was a pioneer in many aspects of the visual arts for women in Austria.
Her father Simon Blau was a military doctor from Prague, living and working in the Heumarkt barracks in Vienna's third district. He had once flirted with pursuing an artistic profession himself, and recognised his daughter's talent early on and gave her substantial and ongoing support. As women were not yet allowed to consider studying art at an academy in the mid-19th century, her father encouraged her at the age of 15 with private lessons from the landscape painter August Schäffer and later from the portraitist Josef Aigner. She received her first lessons from the Waldmüller pupil Antal Hanély, and her first still lifes were also painted under his eye.
When her father took her on a trip north of Prague to Brandeis on the Elbe, she created her first landscape paintings, standing in open nature and fresh air, her subject before her eyes. This influenced her approach to painting and to nature, her preferred place to paint.
She first participated in an exhibition in 1867 thanks to the initiative of her teacher Josef Aigner. He urged her to exhibit a painting at the Vienna Kunstverein, which earned her very first positive reviews.
In 1869, at the age of 24, she moved to Munich to pursue a more in-depth education at the Art School for Women. She took private lessons with Professor Wilhelm Lindenschmit the Younger. As a result, she produced several works and had her first sales, such as the painting Jakobsee bei Polling.
The sale of her paintings allowed her to pay for travel. Sometimes she was able to sell another painting during a stay on one of her trips and thus extend her stay.
During these years, she met the painter Emil Jakob Schindler. They became friends and visited Hungary and other countries together. After their travels, they founded their studio community in Vienna. Since she could not enter into a tenancy herself, the studio community was 'sold' to the outside world as a teacher-pupil relationship. She resisted the idea that she had been a pupil of Schindler's, a claim that is still sometimes made today.
In 1874, Tina Blau moved into her own studio in the Vienna Prater, in one of the rotundas left behind by the 1873 World's Fair.
Using the frame of a pram and a larger wicker basket, she formed her 'Malwagerl', a mobile painting set with an easel as a storage space for brushes, paints, whole pallets and other utensils, and went out with it into the surrounding nature of the Vienna Prater.
Der Stimmungsimpressionismus was characterised by open-air drawings. Using much larger formats than usual, she created such works as Prater im Frühling (Prater in Spring), an oil on canvas that measured 2x3 metres.
This painting was initially classified by the jury of the Künstlerhaus as 'not hangable', with the comment that 'it would tear a hole in the exhibition wall'. The commission responsible reacted to the atypical brightness of her painting and initially rejected it. Thanks to the intervention of Hans Makart, the picture was admitted after all.
In Austria at the time, there were a number of special exhibitions and movements aiming to promote Viennese and Austrian artists at a time when France and Germany set the tone in the visual arts. Almost 250,000 people visited Vienna's First International Art Exhibition in 1882.
Antonin Proust, France's Minister of the 'Beaux-Arts' (this title corresponds to today's term for Minister of Culture) invited Tina Blau to the Paris Salon with her painting 'Frühling im Prater' where she was awarded a Prix Honorable. This event also marked her international breakthrough.
During her stay in Paris, she created several paintings of the Tuileries Gardens.
In 1883, not yet 40 years old, but unusually late for those times, she became engaged to Heinrich Lang - a battle scene and horse painter - and moved with him to Munich, where they married at the end of December 1883. Tina Blau was Jewish, Heinrich Lang was Protestant. A ban on 'mixed marriages' applied then, so she decided to convert to Protestantism.
After her marriage, Tina Blau began teaching as a teacher in the painting school of the Künstlerinnenverein in Munich, which had been founded in 1882 to give women engaged in the arts and crafts the opportunity for mutual stimulation in their work and mutual support in their endeavours. Later, she taught landscape and still life painting there.
In the 1880s and 1890s, her works were shown at world exhibitions - such as the World Exhibition in Paris in 1889 and the Chicago in 1892 - and many other galleries and exhibitions. She enjoys success and recognition. The Munich Kunstverein organised her first solo exhibition with more than 60 works in 1890.
When her husband died in 1891, she moved back to Vienna after several journeys that took her as far as Holland and Italy. With the leadership of Olga Prager and together with Rosa Mayreder in 1897, she founded the Vienna Women's Academy, an artistic educational institution in Vienna which enabled women interested in painting, graphics and sculpture to receive an education without expensive private lessons. Tina Blau taught Landscape Painting and Still Life classes there from 1898 to 1915.
Tina Blau set the course for women in the artistic landscape and painting and was one of the most important Austrian painters of the 19th century. Tina Blau died of cardiac arrest in Vienna in 1916 after a prolonged illness.