These 5 Weird Portraits from Kunsthistorisches Museum Will Make You Wonder

Zuzanna Stańska 24 July 2016 min Read

Every month in our mobile app DailyArt (download it for free for iOS/Android) we specially feature a collection from one magnificent museum. This month we feature pieces from The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, one of the foremost museums in the world, which owns rich holdings comprising artworks from seven millennia - from Ancient Egypt to the late 18th century. On this occasion we decided to share more masterpieces from this museum with you. Check out this 5 kinda weird portraits from KHM collection that will make you wonder about human physhiognomy. Enjoy!

1. The Hairy Man

[caption id="attachment_866" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Anonymous Artist, Peter Gonsalvus, 1580, Kunsthistorisches Museum. Vienna Anonymous Artist, Peter Gonsalvus, 1580, Kunsthistorisches Museum. Vienna[/caption] Petrus Gonsalvus, "the man of the woods," was born in 1537 in Tenerife. His life has been well chronicled as he became famous during his lifetime because of his condition called hypertrichosis, an abnormal amount of hair growth over the body. Gonsalvus was a noble man, although he was never considered fully human in the eyes of his contemporaries. He married and had children - four of seven were also afflicted with hypertrichosis, and painted. It is believed that marriage between Petrus Gonsalvus and lady Catherine inspired fairy tale Beauty and the Beast.

2. The Man with feathery shade on his head

[caption id="attachment_867" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Jan Thomas, Gundakar Fürst Dietrichstein, 1667, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna Jan Thomas, Prince Gundakar Dietrichstein in a fantastical costume, 1667, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna[/caption] The prince Gundakar took part in the equestrian ballet, one of the elaborate festivities held at the Viennese court to mark the marriage of Emperor Leopold I and the Spanish infanta Margarita Teresa (that famous one from Velasquez portraits) in Vienna in 1667. I really wonder how on earth this poor horse endured all these decorative elements - they seem to be heavy!

3. The Giant and the Dwarf

[caption id="attachment_868" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Anonymous Artist, The giant Bartlmä Bona with the dwarf Thomele, late 16th century, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Anonymous Artist, The giant Bartlmä Bon with the dwarf Thomele, late 16th century, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna[/caption] The legend has it that those men on the portrait are Archduke Ferdinand's court giant,Bartlmä Bon and the court dwarf, Thomele. The Habsburg court was famous of its love of curiosities and interest in weird discoveries. Both sitters often played their part in court festivities and pageants. But why the dwarf look like a child - I have no idea.  

4. The Duke with a long nose

[caption id="attachment_869" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Anonymous Artist (copy of Rogier van der Weyden), Duke John the Fearless of Burgundy, around 1500, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Anonymous Artist (copy of Rogier van der Weyden), Duke John the Fearless of Burgundy, around 1500, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna[/caption] Duke John the Fearless was the ruler of a territory that, at the time, was regarded as the most powerful of Western Europe. He was murdered in 1419 on the bridge at Montereau during a parley with the French dauphin (the future Charles VII of France), by Tanneguy du Chastel and Jean Louvet, the dauphin's close counsellors. Sounds a bit like Games of Thrones doesn't it? Still, we published this portrait here because of Duke's famous long nose.

5. The Sleepy Emperor

Anonymous Artist, Emperor Frederick III, c. 1500, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Frederick III, called the Peaceful, was Holy Roman Emperor from 1452 until his death, the first emperor of the House of Habsburg. During his reign, Frederick concentrated on re-uniting the Habsburg "hereditary lands" of Austria and took a lesser interest in Imperial affairs. Nevertheless, by his dynastic entitlement to Hungary as well as by the Burgundian inheritance, he laid the foundations for the later Habsburg Empire. Mocked as "Arch-Sleepyhead of the Holy Roman Empire"during his lifetime, he is today increasingly seen as an efficient ruler.

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