- Albin Egger-Lienz
- Ave Maria nach der Schlacht am Bergisel (Prayer after the Battle of Bergisel)
- signed and inscribed A. Egger-Lienz/München lower right; inscribed Das Ave Maria n.d. Kampfe / am Berg Isel / 1809 / Alle Rechte / vorbehalten on the reverse
- oil on canvas
- 140.5 by 200cm., 55¼ by 78¾in.
Acquired by the family of the present owner circa 1910
Kristian Sotriffer, Albin Egger-Lienz, Vienna, 1983, p. 37, illustrated
Wilfried Kirschl, Albin Egger-Lienz. Das Gesamtwerk, Vienna & Munich, 1996, vol. I, pp. 38-47, the composition discussed; vol. II, p. 510, illustrated; p. 511, no. M89, catalogued (as whereabouts unknown)
Ave Maria nach der Schlacht am Bergisel, showing Tyrolean militiamen at prayer after the battle of Bergisel in 1809, is arguably Egger-Lienz's most famous early composition. The largest version (measuring 343 by 493cm.), is in the collection of the Ferdinandeum in Innsbruck (Kirschl, no. M72), and occupied him for some three years, from 1894-1896. The present smaller version, identical in almost every detail, was painted soon afterwards, in 1897.
The four battles of Bergisel, marking their bicentenary this year, occurred between April and November 1809 at the Bergisel hill near Innsbruck. There Napoleon joined forces with Bavaria against local Tyrolean militiamen and Austrian soldiers. Although the Tyrolean and Austrian soldiers won the first few battles, they were defeated at the conclusive one. This sombre yet hopeful rendering of faith in face of defeat is among Egger's most empathetic and patriotic compositions.
The importance Egger-Lienz attached to the composition, and the time he spent developing his thoughts on it, are borne out by the extensive preparatory sketches and oils he made. These range from studies of individual figures including the central standard bearer and the fallen French soldiers on the right (Kirschl, nos. M74-M88), to a final preparatory sketch of the whole composition (Kirschl, no. M73).
In contrast to Egger's later work, the present work exudes remarkable calm. Egger divests a momentous event of all overt drama, giving expression to what has happened through the brave, pious expressions of the motionless men. Egger's early Realist style, influenced by his teacher Franz Defregger at the Munich Academy, lent itself perfectly to this psychological drama, the gravity of the situation reflected in each individual face.
FIG. 1, Egger-Lienz at work on the large version of Ave Maria nach der Schlacht am Bergisel