Joseph Urban - Set Design for The Mastersingers of Nürnberg, early 20th century

Joseph Urban (Vienna, 1872 - 1933, New York City)

Set Design for The Mastersingers of Nürnberg: Second Act in the Streets Before the Houses of Pogner and Sachs, early 20th century

Pen and ink, watercolor, and gouache on paper , 23.5 x 33.66 cm (9 1/4 x 13 1/4 in.)


One of Isabella Stewart Gardner’s musical loves was the German composer Richard Wagner, best known for his monumental operas. The most visible token of Isabella’s love for Wagner in the Museum is this richly detailed set design for one of Wagner’s operas--"Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg." The colorful drawing was a gift from Isabella’s friend Joseph Urban, a renowned architect and set designer who designed over 50 productions for the Metropolitan Opera and served as the art director of the Boston Opera Company. Urban gave this drawing to Isabella for Christmas in 1914, presumably after she saw and loved the performance produced by the Boston Opera House earlier that year.