Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Modern Era

1789 - 1914

In Europe, the revolutionary transformation of the ruling systems and state structures began with a bang: In 1789 the French Revolution broke out in Paris, and its motto "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite"—Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood—took on an irrepressible force. A fundamental reorganization of society followed the French Revolution. The ideas behind the revolution were manifest in Napoleon's Code Civil, which he imposed on many European nations. The 19th century also experienced a transformation of society from another source: The Industrial Revolution established within society a poorer working class that stood in opposition to the merchant and trading middle class. The nascent United States was shaken by an embittered civil war. The economic growth that set in following that war was accompanied by the development of imperialist endeavors and its rise to the status of a Great Power.



Liberty Leading the People,
allegory of the 1830 July revolution that deposed the French monarchy,
with Marianne as the personification of liberty,
contemporary painting by Eugene Delacroix.






Austria, politically weakened both domestically and abroad, was forced to relinquish its leading role in Germany after its defeat by Prussia in 1866. Conservative forces sought to retain the old Habsburg glory, but the progressive industrialization had its consequences. Growing nationalism within the individual ethnic groups in the multiethnic state, especially that of the Hungarians and Slavs, consistently wrested new concessions out of Vienna, and in the process fostered Austrian xenophobia and anti-Semitism. In the midst of this powder keg—which would explode into World War I in 1914—one of the most important cultural currents of the 19th and 20th centuries developed in the form of Viennese modernism.


The Alliance Policies of the Danube Monarchy

The multinational policies of the multiethnic state failed. Meanwhile, the Danube monarchy sought to ally itself with Germany against Russia.


The imperial and royal monarchy of Austria-Hungary did not succeed in integrating the many ethnic groups under its rule. This phenomenon, paradoxically, led to a certain stability, given that no significant union was possible between so many competing nationalities. Meanwhile the civil servants remained loyal to their Habsburg paymasters.

Germans and Hungarians were favored with regard to voting rights and participation in the political process. As a result, the dual monarchy controlled its minorities with police force. The Hungarian government's Magyarization of the southern Slavic efforts at liberation from the 1870s contributed to the tension in the Balkans, which helped to precipitate World War I. These efforts led in 1914 to the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne the Archduke Francis Ferdinand—nephew of the Emperor and hated by Serbs because of his strong opposition to separatist movements—by a Serbian nationalist.

In foreign affairs the Danube monarchy was forming alliances. In 1872 it formed the Three Emperors' League with Germany and Russia.

In the context of the steady decline of Ottoman power in that region and given Austrian suspicions of Russian expansionism— and support of Slavic nationalists—in the Balkans, it entered the 6 Dual Alliance with Bismarck's Germany.

In addition, Austro-Hungary guaranteed to come to Germany's aid if the latter were faced by a combined Russian and French attack. In 1882, the alliance was expanded into the Triple Alliance with the addition of Italy. Increasingly, the other European powers felt threatened by this concentration of power. Consequently, in 1907, Great Britain, Russia, and France formed the Triple Entente. This divided Europe into the two military blocs between which a world war would break out seven vears later.

6 Signing of the Dual Alliance on 17 Oct 1879:
Kaiser William I and Kaiser Francis Joseph with Bismarck
and Andrassy, their ministers of foreign affairs



Viennese Modernism

During the two decades around the turn of the 20th century, "Young Vienna," a literary current of Jugendstil (Viennese Art Nouveau), formed around Arthur Schnitzler and HUGO VON HOFMANNSTHAL, whose play, "Everyman," captured Vienna's zeitgeist of morbid superficiality and profound decadence.

Other period authors still famous today are
Karl Kraus, Robert Musil, and Hermann Broch.

In painting, which distanced itself from the Belle Epoque's passion for grandeur,
Egon Schiele and particularly Gustav Klimt, a founding member of the "Viennese Secession" movement, made names for themselves.

The Late Romantic
Mahler and the twelve-tone serialists Arnold Schoenberg and Alban Berg stood out as composers, Adolf Loos and Otto Wagner as architects.

SIGMUND FREUD developed psychoanalysis, which strongly influenced Viennese Modernism.

Members of the "Viennese Secession"

Exhibition hall used by the "Vienna Secession" movement,
built in 1897-98 by Joseph M. Olbrich



see also:

Art Nouveau

Victor Horta
Tassel House, Brussels


Graphic Design a new History - 2 Art Nouveau II: Scotland, Austria, and Germany


Koloman Moser. Posters.


Gustav Klimt


Gustav Klimt, Secession I, 1898. Poster. Lithograph.


 Gustav Klimt, Judith II (Salome)


Egon Schiele



Egon Schiele
Portrait of Valerie Neuzil


Egon Schiele


Egon Schiele


see also:

A Brief History of Western Literature and Philosophy:


SIGMUND FREUD, father of psychoanalysis,  "The Interpretation of Dreams"

A Brief History of Classical Music:

Mahler, composer

Schoenberg, composer



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