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Portrait of Waldemar Unger II, 1902/03

Leopold Museum,
Oil on canvas
45×35.6 cm


  • Richard Gerstl

    (Vienna 1883–1908 Vienna)

Currently on display at OG3
In this early work, the painter Richard Gerstl (1883–1908) depicts his childhood friend Waldemar Unger (1881–1938). The portrait shows the aspiring lawyer in representative clothing: a black jacket and tie and a shirt with a high white collar folded back at the corners. The composition and the position of the depicted follow the tradition of 19th century bust portraits with a neutral background. In addition to academic elements, however, the work already betrays pictorial innovations which are owed to Gerstl’s exploration of Impressionist painting: In loose brushstrokes, the artist defines white highlights on the forehead and below the eyes. These emphasize the bright complexion in front of the brownish gray background. Furthermore, the personal likeness of the depicted is enclosed in a bright, fine aura. His youthful charisma, coupled with a serious facial expression and a self-confident gaze, conveys clarity and ambition.

Object data

  • Richard Gerstl
Portrait of Waldemar Unger II
Art movement
Naturalism I Realism
Oil on canvas
45×35.6 cm
Signed and dated (almost illegibly) on the right above the shoulder: Richard Gerstl / 10 Febr. 1903
Credit line
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 6589
Inventory access
Accession 2021
Selection of Reference works
  • Richard Gerstl. Inspiration - Vermächtnis, hrsg. von Hans-Peter Wipplinger u.a., Köln 2019 (Ausst.-Kat. Leopold Museum, Wien, 27.09.2019-20.01.2020).
  • Wien 1900. Aufbruch in die Moderne, hrsg. von Hans-Peter Wipplinger, Wien 2019 (Ausst.-Kat. Leopold Museum, Wien, ab 15.03.2019).

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Provenance research
Leopold Museum i

Waldemar Unger , Kreisbach (bis 1961);
Luise Unger, St. Pölten (bis ca. 1963);
Dr. Rudolf Leopold, Wien (o.D.);
Dr. Otto Breicha, Wien (vor 1966-1975);
Auktion: 05.12.1975, Dorotheum Wien, Los Nr. 1156;
Privatsammlung, Mailand;
Privatbesitz, Italien (seit 1985); (1)
Auktion: 23.11.2004, Dorotheum Wien, Klassische Moderne und Zeitgenössische Kunst, Los Nr. 9;
Auktion: 05.02.2008, Christie´s London, Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale, Los Nr. 240
Auktion: 08.07.2021, Im Kinsky Wien, Klassische Moderne, Los Nr. 2001;
Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung, Wien (2021);

  1. Im Kinksky, Auktionskatalog, Klassische Moderne, 08.07.2021, Los Nr. 2001; Wiener Secession, Katalog zu “Richard Gerstl”, Wien 1966, Nr. 3

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