vol. XXIX – p. 159

Eleonora Beck
A New Reading of the ‘Mozart Family Portrait’

Abstract: One of the most iconic images of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is found in the ‘Mozart Family Portrait,’ attributed to the Tyrolean artist Johann Nepomuk Della Croce. The portrait was painted between the summer of 1780 and the beginning of 1781, just prior to Mozart’s departure to Vienna. It features Mozart and his sister playing a four-hand piece, while Leopold Mozart leans on the keyboard. This paper presents a new reading of the family portrait, identifying the piece the siblings perform as the Sonata in D Major K. 381 based on an examination of the placement of their hands at the keyboard and the discovery of notes on the manuscript. This study also proposes that the painter captured Leopold’s humanist self-concept in the figure of Apollo, a detail that was altered in a subsequent engraving by Eduard Leybold.