Permanent Collection - Secession - Exhibition Hall for Contemporary Art

The Beethoven Frieze

It was originally intended as an ephemeral work of art and, like the other decorative paintings, it was to be removed after the close of the exhibition. It was only owing to fortunate circumstances, that the frieze was not destroyed as planned: the Secession was to present the following year a major Klimt retrospective (XVIIIth exhibition, 1903), and it was decided to leave the work of art in place.

In 1903 the arts patron and collector Carl Reinighaus purchased the frieze, which was cut into seven pieces to be removed from the wall and was stored for twelve years in a furniture depot in Vienna, until Reinighaus sold the frieze again in 1915 to the industrialist August Lederer. Lederer was one of Klimt's most important supporters and owner of what was probably the most extensive and important collection of Klimt pictures in private hands at that time.

In 1938 the Lederer family, like so many other families of Jewish origin, was dispossessed. The Beethoven Frieze was thus placed in "state custody" and was only officially returned to the ownership of the family heir Erich Lederer, who had meanwhile settled in Geneva, after the end of World War II. At the same time, an export ban was placed on the frieze, so that Erich Lederer finally decided - not least of all due to the increasingly urgent necessity of restoring the frieze - to sell it to the Republic of Austria.

In 1973 the Beethoven Frieze was purchased by the Republic of Austria and restored over the course of ten years under the direction of Manfred Koller from the Federal Office of Monuments Vienna.

Finally, in the course of the general renovation of the Secession in 1985, a room was created in the basement for the Beethoven Frieze. The dimensions of this room exactly correspond to the climatized space required for the frieze for reasons of conservation, and here the frieze can be shown separately from ongoing exhibitions. Since 1986 the wall cycle has again been made permanently accessible to the public at the Secession as a loan from the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere.


Overall length 34,14 m (long walls 13,92 m each, front wall 6,30 m), Height 2,15 - 2,00 m
Casein paint, gold paint, black and color chalk, graphite. Applied plaster and various appliqué materials (e.g. mirror, mother-of-pearl, curtain rings, etc.)
On loan from the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere

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