Austrian artist Wilhelm Friedrich Giessel whipped up scenes of heady tavern-goers, saturated with rich colour which lends itself to the sweet whimsical nature of his paintings.
Active in his hometown of Vienna, an artistic zenith of Europe, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there is unfortunately little record of Giessel’s life. However, the genre of paintings he was producing were becoming increasingly popular during his time. Customers, perhaps downtrodden and a little wearisome of the breakneck industrial and political changes occurring, were desirous for their art to depict something simpler, something amusing.
Historic scenes of tavern life were, in particular, popular. The ambiguous life of the tavern, with many different hearts from many different places all trapped in one room, on one canvas, for a liminal period. Where mischief can occur and the mood matters only for the moment, only for enjoyment. These scenes were desired, and these scenes Giessel delivered.
His work has been noted for its effusive use of colour. Any shadows that linger in the corners of his interiors do not swamp his subjects. They sit upon a buoyant cloud of vivacity, both in their colouring and in their expression. Many a customer is rosy-cheeked, smiling with the serene bliss of a convivial haze. Even in scenes where the jubilant mood is tempered and a calmer nature falls over the scene, Giessel does not quell his ebullient colouration. Indeed, it holds the scenes together.
As well as historic scenes, Giessel also depicted snapshots of contemporary life. Men gather with competitive smirks around a table - at a game of cards. A man blows upon his trumpet. A scene of a violin maker, admiring the finished product, marries Giessel’s usual vivacious colouring with effective use of shadow. Under Giessel’s hand, the satisfaction on his face is captured, the gleaming of the instrument emphasised. Scenes like this one go to the heart of his works’ sentimental nature and are a testament to his skill.
Clearly, Giessel was a man of talent, and whilst history remains elusive about the details of his life, his works lend themselves as examples of a greatly skilled artist.
Born in Vienna, Austria.