Auction House

Summer im Kinsky with Empress Elisabeth

31.05.2022 / Antiques Auction: 29 June, 2pm

Lot 1070
Hans Bitterlich 
Kaiserin Elisabeth
H. 90 cm
Estimate: 150 000 - 300 000 €

The sculptor Hans Bitterlich celebrated such a success in 1907 with his monument dedicated to Empress Elisabeth that he carried out the same motif again in the same year.  Made of the same Laaser marble as its larger model, it is the perfect smaller image of the sculpture in the Volksgarten and impresses with the same craftsmanship and lifelike representation. The auction house in the Kinsky is now offering interested parties the great opportunity to bid for this unique marble sculpture during the auction from 28 to 30 June. It is truly unique, as Bitterlich did not create any further versions of Empress Elisabeth in marble.

The idea for the Elisabeth Monument was born as early as 1901, three years after the murder of the empress by the Italian Luigi Luccheni in Geneva. A committee was founded in Vienna, which initiated an appeal for donations to the population and issued a call for tenders. Finally, the decision was made in favour of the design by Professor Bitterlich, who was already well known to the Viennese for his Gutenberg statue at the Lugeck. The Volksgarten was chosen as the site for the statue.

Hans Bitterlich formed the sculpture from a block of Laasa marble, which comes from the Vinschgau region of South Tyrol. Bitterlich valued the stones from the area. Until 1911 there was a "k.k. Fachschule für Steinbearbeitung" in Laas. "k.k. Fachschule für Steinbearbeitung" existed in Laas until 1911. At that time, the artist was a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and familiar with the Laas quarries. 

The ceremonial inauguration finally took place on 4 June 1907. Emperor Franz Joseph unveiled the monument and, as the newspapers reported at the time, was delighted. The press and the population agreed at the unveiling that the resemblance and execution were astonishing. The Austrian illustrated newspaper noted on 9 June 1907 that Bitterlich had found the middle ground between the portrait and the ideal statue with "the right tact". According to the paper, this was expressed in particular in the empress's "noble grace, majestic calm and the generosity shining from angel-like eyes".  

The statue was such a success that the sculptor used the motif even more often. Among other things, he created a small sculpture in bronze, which was acquired by the City of Vienna in 1916. On the other hand, Bitterlich later created that statue in 1907, which is now offered in the auction at the Kinsky Auction House and which has been in private German ownership for years.  The auction house thus offers the unique opportunity to acquire a historically and artistically valuable reminder of the famous "Sisi" and the glorious imperial era in Vienna.