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, at Tuchlauben 19, 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 cloth 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 (ca. 1180-1240) and tell stories of feasts, joy, and emotions experienced centuries ago. They tell of love and feasts as well as the tensions between various social strata during a time of massive social change.
Neidhart von Reuenthal was one of the most famous 13th-century minnesingers in German history, and his witty songs remained popular for centuries and well known throughout Central Europe.

Each fresco depicts scenes from one of four seasons and, since the frescoes were ordered for a private room, the artist was more liberal in his approach, with the characters presented in different emotional and intimate moments. They are shown dancing, holding hands, and kissing, but there are also images that depict more violent scenes.
Initially, the frescoes covered all four walls, but only some parts of them have survived the times.
The Neidhart Frescoes are among the oldest secular mural paintings still existing in Vienna.

Source and photos: wienmuseum.at

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