Happy Birthday, Mozart!
(Can you spot the fake?)
Volume 114, No. 1January, 2014
The Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg is a nonprofit organization whose primary focus is Mozart’s life and work. The foundation offers concerts, maintains the Mozart museums and supports academic research. It owns two of Salzburg’s most important historic sites: the house in which Mozart was born and the house in which he resided with his family as a child.
‘BOY WITH THE BIRD’S NEST’
For a long time it was doubted whether Mozart is shown in the picture “Boy with the Bird’s Nest”. Now it is certain that the boy with the bird’s nest in the picture is not Mozart. It was sold as authentic to the Mozarteum Foundation in 1924-1925, but a recently-found restoration report dating from 1928 established that it was, in fact, a fake. Research showed that a false inscription (“W. A. Mozart, 1764”) had been added simply to increase the painting’s value. This false inscription has now been removed. It was originally assumed that Joseph Zoffany (1733-1810) had painted the portrait but a study carried out recently by experts proved that this too is false.
THE MOZART SNUFF BOX
Until now the small portrait on the snuff box was always regarded as a mystery. Now it is certain: research confirms this as an actual portrait of Mozart from the year 1783. Not only that, it is the only portrait that exists between 1781 and Mozart’s death in 1791 where Mozart is shown en face (facing the observer). The miniature has a remarkable likeness to an engraving made in 1829 by the Dresden copper engraver Gottschick. For his engraving, Gottschick referred to a miniature by Grassi. It could well be that the portrait on the box was a work by Grassi, as Mozart and the painter met in Vienna. (Note: the inscription “Joh. Mozart” refers to Mozart’s actual first name, Johannes. The composer’s full, baptized name was Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart.)
Photos and text edited from an official press release from the Mozart Residence in Salzburg. For more information, see www.mozarteum.at/en