Florian Otto Daniel Josephu was born in Pilsen (now in the Czech Republic) on May 28, 1986. He married Olga Wilhelmine Klein in 1918. Their children were Elizabeth (Lieserl) and Johanna (Hannerl). He died in Vienna on March 14, 1978.
He lived as child in Vienna, then for a short time in Graz where he began his studies at the State school for Arts and Crafts (Staatsgewerbeschule Graz). By 1904 he returned to Vienna and began his formal training at the famed Vienna Academy of Fine Art. He studied a total of eight years and graduated Magna Cum Laude (more here).
In 1906 Florian made his debut with a bust of the piano virtuoso, Alfred Grünfeld, in Vienna’s Künstlerhaus. A year later he created a plaque of Grünfeld. In 1909 Florian was awarded 200 Kronen by Emperor Franz Joseph, who praised Florian’s portrait of the late court actor, Adolf Ritter von Sonnenthal. Florian’s work was also included in the Emperor’s collection of coins and medals.
In 1913 he received the Roman Prize for his statue Weiblicher Narziss (Female Narcissus). This huge sculpture was purchased by Richard Kola, a well-known Viennese financier, writer and art connoisseur. In October of 1913 Florian won the Schwendenwein travel scholarship, which inlcuded a chance to study in Italy, along with 3,500 Kronen, which was to be followed by a one-year study period in France and Germany, but World War I ended those plans.
Member of the Künstlerverband österreichischer Bildhauer (Artistic Association of Austrian Sculptors) from 1919 which was annulled with the Anschluss in 1939 due to his being married to Olga Klein who was of Jewish origin. All artistic work was also denied to him for the same reason. He was deprived of the rights to use his studio that he had acquired due to his ‘Roman Award’ (Rompreis). As he had to empty his studio at a short notice, he was forced to destroy his bigger statues and the smaller ones he hid at his friends’ studios and apartments where some of them were destroyed during bombardments of Vienna. Part of his sculpting tools was either sold or given to colleagues.
Awards and Acknowledgements:
Roman Award (Rompreis) 1913 for the statue of the Female Narcissus (Weiblicher Narziss; photo above) of superhuman size. There are also a few small studies in wood and plaster. The big sculpture was purchased by Richard Kola (1872 – 1939), a well-known Viennese financier, writer and art connoisseur – reference from Bruno Schütz’s review in the Österreichische Woche (Austrian Weekly), no. 26 from 27.06.1926.
Florian married Olga Klein on 30 September 1918. Their daughters were Elizabeth (born 24 October 1919) and Johanna (born 19 December 1922). The family immgrated to Zagreb and Jastrebarsko (now Croatia) from 1940 to 1945, thanks to Olga’s older sister, Ruza Klein and her (then former) husband, Ivan Meštrović, the renowned sculptor. Repatriation to Austria began at the beginning of 1946, with a few months’ stay at the English quarantine camp in Fürnitz, near Villach, Austria.
Post War Work
After World War II Florian returned to Vienna and work. Apart from restoration works in Vienna like those at the Belvedere, the Pallas Athena Fountain at Parliament, and the Mozart memorial at the St. Marxer Cemetery, his work also includes reliefs and mosaics on Vienna tenement houses, commissioned by the City of Vienna. For example, Nutze die Zeit, sie eilt on the facade of the building 35 Löwengasse in 1950s, and the Schornsteinfeger on the building 4 – 6 Kapaunplatz/5 Grieggasse, entrance 13, from 1953. He created a number of portrait busts like Die schöne Wienerin, 1950, and the sculpture Mutterschaft at 25 Spohrstraße, erected in 1962 (pictured right).
On 25 May 1956 – The Golden Laurel (Goldener Lorbeer) by the Fine Arts Society of Vienna, Home of Artists, (Die Gesellschaft bildender Künstler Wiens, Künstlerhaus), the member of which he had been for already 20 years back then. It was awarded to him for his overall artistic work on the occasion of his 70th birthday.
The President of Austria and the Minister of Education assigned Florian Josephu with the title of honorary professor on 27 March 1963. Honorary member of the Home of Artists (Künstlerhaus) since 1972.