Karl Hrachowina

Certificate from the Imperial and Royal School of Arts and Crafts in Vienna for Gustav Klimt, completed and signed by Ludwig Minnigerode and Ferdinand Laufberger, 07/25/1878, Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien, Kunstsammlung und Archiv
© Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien, Kunstsammlung und Archiv

Advertising for the booklet of coats of arms by Karl Hrachowina, in: Österreichische Kunst-Chronik, Nummer 5 (1883).
© ANNO | Österreichische Nationalbibliothek

Karl Hrachowina worked as a technical draftsman and edited several reference works on art. He taught “ornamental drawing” at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts from the 1870s. One of his students was Gustav Klimt.

Karl Hrachowina was born in Hungary in 1845. He studied at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts in the 1860s. During his studies, he already created several works for the Imperial-Royal Austrian Museum of Art and Industry (now MAK – Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna). He then worked as a technical draftsman for the Imperial Royal Privileged Austrian Northwestern Railway Company for three years. He pursued a career as a teacher from 1971. Hrachowina first worked as an assistant at the College of Technology (now Vienna University of Technology). He later taught “freehand drawing and ornamental drawing” as a substitute teacher at the same institution.

Professor at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts
Hrachowina was given a teaching post at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts in 1877, teaching “ornamental drawing” in the preparatory class. He was appointed a professor only one year later, according to the Mittheilungen des k. k. Österreichischen Museums für Kunst und Industrie [Communications of the Imperial-Royal Austrian Museum of Art and Industry]. Among his first students was Gustav Klimt, whose diligence and performance Hrachowina praised as “very industrious” and “excellent” in the school year of 1877/78.

Apart from teaching at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts, Hrachowina was commissioned by the Imperial-Royal Museum of Art and Industry in the 1880s to illustrate several publications and to compile reference works on ornamental drawing, such as Initialen, Alphabete und Randleisten verschiedener Kunstepochen (1883) and Wappenbüchlein für Kunstjünger und Kunsthandwerker (1883).

The Last Years in the Life of an “Excellent Teacher”
Karl Hrachowina taught at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts for a total of 19 years, up until his death in February 1896. His obituary, published in the Mittheilungen des k. k. Österreichischen Museums für Kunst und Industrie, described him as an excellent teacher, who

“[…] lived for his profession with zeal and passion and achieved glorious successes as a teacher with his fine artistic instinct, vast knowledge and excellent pedagogical talent.”

Literature and sources

  • Felix Czeike (Hg.): Historisches Lexikon Wien, Band 3, Vienna 1994, S. 275.
  • Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Hg.): Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon 1815–1950, Band 2, Vienna 1994.
  • Hans Vollmer (Hg.): Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart. Begründet von Ulrich Thieme und Felix Becker, Band XVII, Leipzig 1924, S. 597.
  • k. k. Österreichisches Museum für Kunst und Industrie (Hg.): Jahresbericht des k. k. Österreichischen Museums für Kunst und Industrie für 1877, Vienna 1878, S. 9.
  • Mittheilungen des k. k. Österreichischen Museums für Kunst und Industrie. Monatsschrift für Kunst und Gewerbe, 13. Jg., Heft 153 (1878), S. 115-116.
  • Neue Freie Presse, 01.06.1878, S. 1.
  • Neue Freie Presse, 29.10.1884, S. 4.
  • Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung, 11.05.1883, S. 4.
  • N. N.: Professor Karl Hrachowina †, in: Mittheilungen des k. k. Österreichischen Museums für Kunst und Industrie. Monatsschrift für Kunst und Gewerbe, N.F., 11. Jg., Heft 3 (1896), S. 57-58.