There are only a dozen authentic portraits of Mozart, many of which were the results of commissions by his father. Only three portraits were painted at the artist's instigation. Because Mozart died young, we have no celebrity portraits such as we have for Beethoven and other composers. Mozart became legendary only after his death. History has sought to correct this by supplying a stream of portraits which depict our fantasies about Mozart—and rarely Mozart himself.
Of the dozen authentic portraits, only four exclusively depict Mozart: The Boy Mozart (1763), Wolfgang at Verona (1770), Mozart as Knight of the Golden Spur (1777), and the unfinished but undoubtedly most famous one, Mozart at the Pianoforte (1782), painted by his brother-in-law, Joseph Lange. The remaining portraits depict Mozart and his family, with the exception of Tea at Prince Louis-François de Conti’s. There are no (finished) portraits of Mozart playing the piano or composing music.
© 2002 Division of Rare & Manuscript