Developing an eye for harmony: Rubens in Mozart’s education

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Leopold Mozart’s correspondence during the years spent touring Europe with his children provides evidence that he made a point of viewing paintings, generally by leading artists of the past. The frequency of these references shows that this was a serious and time-consuming interest.

Leopold’s principal artistic obsession was the painter Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), whose works he meticulously sought out for family viewing. This paper documents Leopold’s enthusiasm for Rubens and examines its creative consequences. The painter was chiefly admired at the time for expressive handling of large-scale compositions and intensely dramatic use of colour, and appreciation of these qualities are here shown to have helped Leopold as he sought to stimulate his young son Wolfgang’s compositional abilities. Eighteenth-century criticism stemming from Roger de Piles singled Rubens out as a particularly 'musical' painter. How Leopold came to embrace this view, incorporating it into an educational programme for his son, is shown as one of Leopold’s overriding concerns during of the family’s first tour through Western Europe between 1763 and 1766.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLate Eighteenth-Century Music and Visual Culture
EditorsCliff Eisen, Alan Davison
PublisherBrepols Publishers
ISBN (Print)9782503546292
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

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