The “Character Heads” by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt can be seen in the Upper Belvedere and I found them fascinating. They were so different than the usual sculptures at that time and I wondered where he got his inspiration from. Once I read the plaque I found it so interesting that the faces were most probably expressions and reactions from people getting electrocuted. His friend was a doctor and his patients would hold onto a rope that connected them with a magnetized tub. I wonder how I would look like if I were to be electrocuted.. My favorite was the stature of the guy with the double chin. Before I thought I would only ever see a real double chin on snapchats but now, they are also in a museum! It was almost like snapchat in educational form.
Information from the plaque in the room with the “Character Heads” in the Upper Belvedere:
Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, born in 1736 as Wiesensteig in Swabia, certainly led an unusual life. After training with his uncles Johann Baptist and Philipp Jakob Straub, he studied at the Academy in Vienna. This was the start of an impressive career culminating in the monumental statues of Emperor Franz and Maria Theresia. In spite of his success, he was passed over for the Chair of sculpture at the Academy in 1774.
Disappointed, he left Vienna and started leading a reclusive life, working more intensively on his “character heads,” as they were later known, which he has begun in around 1770. It is likely that one source of inspiration for these was the magnetic cures used by his friend, the doctor Franz Anton Mesmer. People suffering from various complaints would hold onto a rope that connected them with a magnetized tub. The heads are like studies of the various expressions and reactions. Although Messerschmidt must have been a bizarre and solitary character, he was always a respected artist and was still sculpting portraits busts when he died in 1783.
More information on Franz Xaver Messerschmidt and images of his sculptures found here
For my Outfit read more here