The Brothers Josephu

The Brothers Josephu
Young Josef at work...circa 1917

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Trip - Day 5

Friday,  June 3

Today began with a solo venture back in the First District. George dropped me off at the U-Bahn (Vienna's equivalent to NY's subway), a very clean and efficient form of mass transportation. I stop at the Karlsplatz station and walk my way over to Karlskirche (St. Charles Church). I recall how 14 years ago my other and I visited Vienna and stayed at a hotel nearby, The Kaiserhof. For days we looked for Karlskirche. We finally asked the hotel concierge only to find it was directly behind our hotel!  Karlskirche is a beautiful large church, now a museum. The exterior is very unique and it's blue dome may be seen from all around. Inside is a wooden carving of St. Anthony by my grandfather, Josef. I get my photos and take the lift up a scaffold that has been installed to allow visitors a closer look at the painted ceilings.

From here I head to the Belvedere, once a palace and now a museum. It's grounds are large, dotted with sculptures, and divided into "Upper" and "Lower."  It should have been a short walk, by my GPS was not fairing well...and it directed me to the Upper Belvedere. I was hoping to meet Katinka Gratzer, an archivist. I was directed down to the Lower Belvedere, which was much closer to Kalrskirche. Although I came somewhat unexpected (I had emailed my plans to visit but never mentioned when) Ms. Gratzer cheerfully welcomed me. She had an assistant pull out what little information she had, not on Josef or Florian, but on their instructors, Edmund von Hellmer and Hans Bitterlich. I promised I will forward Ms. Gratzer copies of Josef's academy certificates signed by those two scultpors.

From here I walk just below the Belveder entrance to Schwarzenberg Palace, hoping to find some work by Florian he described as "vases in a niche." The building us going through major rennovation, becoming a hotel. I find nothing outside and it's completely closed down.

From here I roam for a while, just taking in the sites near the Ringstrasse. We are going to meet with Herbert Fischer for lunch. Herbert is extremely skilled in online family research, a passionate hobby of his. I was introduced to Herbert through an email during my pre-trip research, and Herbert has uncovered many wonderful things. He's also ventured out and located some of the statues and graves, and emailed photos before my trip.  I didn't know what Herbert looked like, so when I arrived at the Oberlaa restaurant I called his cell. He's a very pleasant man. George soon joined us and we had a lovely lunch and talk. Herbert then presented me with a lovely gift, a copy of Modern Welt from July 1922.  The magazine issue discusses sculptors and has a piece on the brothers Josephu - Josef and Florian - with some excellent pictures.  This is a much appreciated surprise! He also gave me a scanned copy of the issue as well. Then Herbert says he's found a piece by Florian we hadn't known about, and will take us there later.

I was please that Herbert could join us for the afternoon, and together we three headed over to the Albertina. Behind it lies a large glass greenhouse called the Palmenhaus. I have a photo of an exhibition of works by Josef, and the iron work in the background certainly looks like it was here. Josef's notes state one of his statues, Eve, was made of marble and in Vienna; the photo is of Eve among palms with a second Josephu statue visible in the background. Palmenhaus is now a restaraunt and there is no statue present. We find the owner who offers to show the photo to her father with hopes that he may remember. I would later learn that he does not. So, this one remains a mystery. However, it is most likely that this was simply a temporary exhibit.

Herbert then leads us over the a Florian work: A plaque/relief of piano virtuoso Alfred Grünfeld. It's in excellent condition and sits atop the entrance to a building. I recall in my pre-trip research finding a medallion made by Florian of Grünfeld, possibly as an award for some competition, and find it interesting that Grünfeld  is now twice the subject of Florian's work. Herbert thinks there is also a bust of Grünfeld in a cemetary, but we could never find any reference to where.

It's now raining and we head off to the U-Bahn and home...the ending to another full day.

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