Marsha Morton Essays

1- “Max Klinger’s Brahmsphantasie: The Physiological Sublime, Embodiment, and Male Identity,” in Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, Vol. 21, No. 1, Spring 2022.

In 1894 German artist Max Klinger completed the Brahmsphantasie, a bound volume comprised of forty-one prints accompanying the musical scores of six compositions by his friend Johannes Brahms. The imagery of the distressed figures and dystopian scenes visualizes Klinger’s embodied response to Brahms’s music and is rooted in studies of the physiological and psychological effect of sound introduced in Edmund Burke’s concepts of the sublime, continued in German music theory, and refined by the physicist Hermann von Helmholtz. These issues are discussed and contextualized in this essay within the gendered critical battles between supporters of Brahms and Richard Wagner (attacked through labels of impotence or virility) and interpreted as a transformed model of modern male identity that subverted rational control and heroic dominance.

2- “Nature, Science, and Self in Nineteenth-Century German Visual Culture,” in “Forum: Visual Studies – The Art Historians’ View,” The German Quarterly, Spring 2019, pp. 246-249.

3- “Rudolf von Eitelberger and Leopold Carl Müller: Constructing a Genre of Viennese Orientalism,” in Rudolf Eielberger von Edelberg, Netzwerke der Kunstwelt, ed Eva Kernbauer, et al, (Wien: Böhlau 2019), pp. 214-229.

This essay traces the relationship and epistolary exchange between Rudolf von Eitelberger, the first art history professor at the University of Vienna and the founder of the Vienna Museum of Applied Arts, and Leopold Carl Müller, the first Orientalist painter in Austria.  Eitelberger’s support for Müller’s career was motivated by many shared artistic beliefs and practices. Müller’s object-based eyewitness descriptions of people and places in Egypt was consistent with the use of scientific materialist procedures and primary source documents for which the Vienna School of Art History became famous. His paintings demonstrate a mastery of academic anatomical form and composition fused with the new naturalist standards of outdoor light and shade for which on-site sketching and photography served as aids. At the same time, Müller’s pictures of working-class Egyptians exemplified Eitelberger’s views related to Volkskunst (folk art) and genre painting as social historical documents rooted in Volksthümlichkeit, while providing a model for the Habsburg Empire of harmonious ethnically diverse Imperial (Ottoman) subjects who were peaceful and relatively passive.

4- “Picturing the Perils of Greed: Kladderadatsch and the 1873 Financial Crash,” in the Journal of Illustration, Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 2017, pp.187-210.

This article examines the coverage of the 1873 stock market crash and its aftermath in the Berlin satirical paper Kladderadatsch, whose illustrations were drawn by Wilhelm Scholz.  Images and texts together reported on government activities, offered critical commentaries on the state of society, and acted as the voice of the country’s liberal conscience. The illustrations critiqued not only prominent political figures but also the general public who were investors in the stock market and readers of Kladderadatsch. Scholz’s caricatures employed a variety of techniques in which figures were depicted realistically or transformed in different historical, literary or mythological settings. These pictorial strategies allowed him to contextualize the flux of contemporary events and patterns of human behavior in a historical continuum. At their most successful, the images stimulated discourses on German identity and moral values and visualized the nature of modernity.

5- “From False Objectivity to New Objectivity: Klinger’s Legacy of Symbolic Realism,” in Symbolist Roots of Modernism, ed. Michelle Facos and Thor Mednick, Ashgate Press, 2015.– “Picturing the Perils of Greed: Kladderadatsch and the 1873 Financial Crash,” in the Journal of Illustration, Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 2017, pp.187-210.