The Collector Rudolf Leopold
When the great art collector and patron of the arts Rudolf Leopold died on 29 June 2010 aged 85 as director of the museum, that carries his name, he left a unique lifework behind. Collecting art was his purpose in life. This obsessions was by far not restricted to „Fin de Siècle“ Vienna but extended to Old Masters, colored peasant-cupboards, glass or gothic mortars.
When Leopold visited the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Art History) in Vienna for the very first time as a young medical student at the age of 22, he was so overwhelmed that he decided to study art history and to compile his own art collection. But since the Old Masters were of course way too expensive, he first acquired works of the 19th century. But when he happened across the artist Egon Schiele, he realized that Schiele was on a par with the Old Masters and on top of that affected issues of today’s world. Over the years thereby the largest and most prominent Schiele-collection in the world developed. Not least, it were the Schiele paintings of the Leopold collection exhibited in museums and exhibition halls all over the world that made Egon Schiele known internationally and shifted him into the first row of European artists. Leopold‘s catalogue raisonné with a first index of motifs, published in 1972 after years of work, is an unrivalled standard reference down to the present day.
Prof. Rudolf Leopold did not only campaign for Egon Schiele, but just as relentlessly for the appreciation of his contemporaries. Over the period of five decades and with the everlasting support of his wife Dr. Elisabeth Leopold, he compiled a collection consisting of over 5200 works of art, that were consolidated into the Leopold Museum – Private Foundation in 1994. Today, the Leopold Museum enjoys worldwide reputation and is one of the major attractions of Vienna.