Neidhart Frescoes – Vienna, Austria - Atlas Obscura

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Neidhart Frescoes

A glimpse into the festive and private lives of medieval Europe.  


In 1979 during restoration works in an apartment near the center of Vienna, a sensational find was uncovered. After removing plaster from the walls, a set of ancient frescoes were revealed.

These works of art were ordered by Michel Menschein, a wealthy merchant who wanted them as decorations for a private dance and banquet hall in 1407. The paintings depict songs by legendary bard Neidhart von Reuenthal and tell stories of feasts, joy, and emotions experienced centuries ago.

Neidhart von Reuenthal was one of the most famous 13th-century minnesingers in German history. His critical and witty songs remained popular for centuries and were well known throughout Central Europe.

Initially, the frescoes covered all four walls, but only some parts of them have survived the times. Each fresco depicts scenes from one of four seasons. Since the frescoes were ordered for a private room, the artist was more liberal in his approach. The characters are presented in different emotional and intimate moments. They are shown dancing, holding hands, and kissing. There are also images that depict more violent scenes. 

The Neidhart Frescoes are among the oldest secular mural paintings still existing in Vienna. 

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January 13, 2021

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