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Good Living Street: Portrait of a Patron Family, Vienna 1900 [Kindle Edition]

Tim Bonyhady
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $35.00
Kindle Price: $16.14
You Save: $18.86 (54%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Vienna and its Secessionist movement at the turn of the last century is the focus of this extraordinary social portrait told through an eminent Viennese family, headed by Hermine and Moriz Gallia, who were among the great patrons of early-twentieth-century Viennese culture at its peak.
Good Living Street takes us from the Gallias’ middle-class prosperity in the provinces of central Europe to their arrival in Vienna, following the provision of Emperor Franz Joseph in 1848 that gave Jews freedom of movement and residence, legalized their religious services, opened public service and professions up to them, and allowed them to marry.
The Gallias, like so many hundreds of thousands of others, came from across the Hapsburg Empire to Vienna, and for the next two decades the city that became theirs was Europe’s center of art, music, and ideas.
The Gallias lived beyond the Ringstrasse in Vienna’s Fourth District on the Wohllebengasse (translation: Good Living Street), named after Vienna’s first nineteenth-century mayor.
In this extraordinary book we see the amassing of the Gallias’ rarefied collections of art and design; their cosmopolitan society; we see their religious life and their efforts to circumvent the city’s rampant anti-Semitism by the family’s conversion to Catholicism along with other prominent intellectual Jews, among them Gustav Mahler. While conversion did not free Jews from anti-Semitism, it allowed them to secure positions otherwise barred to them.
Two decades later, as Kristallnacht raged and Vienna burned, the Gallias were having movers pack up the contents of their extraordinary apartment designed by Josef Hoffmann. The family successfully fled to Australia, bringing with them the best private collection of art and design to escape Nazi Austria; included were paintings, furniture, three sets of silver cutlery, chandeliers, letters, diaries, books and bookcases, furs—chinchilla, sable, sealskin—and even two pianos, one upright and one Steinway.
Not since the publication of Carl Schorske’s acclaimed portrait of Viennese modernism, Fin-de-Siècle Vienna, has a book so brilliantly—and completely—given us this kind of close-up look at turn-of-the-last-century Viennese culture, art, and daily life—when the Hapsburg Empire was fading and modernism and a new order were coming to the fore.
Good Living Street re-creates its world, atmosphere, people, energy, and spirit, and brings it all to vivid life.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews


“Bonyhady has delved deeply into his forebears’ concert books, travel logs, letters, and death certificates in an effort to reconstruct his family’s identity and, for his mother, to place ‘a value on her life that she did not.’ The result is a lucid, poignant generational tale of loss of material wealth and cultural identity that provides new perspective and insight into both Holocaust and immigration studies.”

 “Tim Bonyhady goes far beyond the story of how a great art collection came into being, with rich descriptions of the political, social, and cultural context of Vienna from the turn of the 20th century to 1938.”
— Victoria Newhouse
Praise from Australia for Good Living Street
“Arts aficionados will be mesmerized here by Bonyhady’s meticulous research of Vienna as an important centre of European arts modernism . . . Good Living Street is a captivating tour-de-force . . . Bonyhady deploys a genre of writing that impressively and poetically weaves together art, social and cultural histories and deeply reflexive investigative family biography with a mesmerizing, galloping narrative—it is at once a book that is arts educational and highly political and personal.”
—Jon Altman, Art Monthly Australia
Good Living Street is something of a mélange, although rich as an expensive cake tray . . . a rich tapestry of intriguing stories.”
—Chris Wallace-Crabbe, The Saturday Age

About the Author

Tim Bonyhady is an award-winning art historian, curator, and environmental lawyer. He is the director of the Centre of Climate Law and Policy at the Australian National University. He lives in Canberra, Australia.

Product Details

  • File Size: 11385 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1 edition (November 15, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004N6366C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #646,292 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than the subtitle... November 28, 2011
Australian arts writer Tim Bonyhady has written of his mother's family, but the subtitle of the book, "Portrait of a Patron Family, Vienna 1900" doesn't begin to capture Bonyhady's family's full story.

Bonyhady's maternal family emigrated from Austria in 1938 to Australia, refugees from Nazi Germany, which had taken over Austria in the Anschluss. The Gallia family - originally from the provinces - had moved to Vienna in the late 1800's and had "made good" economically. They were Jews at a time when being Jewish was a hindrance to both economic and social successes. So they, like many other Austrian Jewish families, threw off the binds of their heritage and converted to either Catholicism or Protestantism. Were their conversions real or done as a matter of convenience? I suppose that only the newly baptised Catholic can answer that, but in reality, being a converted Christian wouldn't save the Gallia/Hamburger family from Nazi persecution forty years later any more than it did Jews who stayed with their religion.

The Gallia great-grandparents, Moriz and Hermine, married in the 1890's and had four children. First a son, and then three daughters. Moriz Gallia made a fortune in the gas lighting business - as well as some side subsidiaries - and the couple decided to become patrons to the arts in turn-of-the-century Vienna. Their interest in the arts included music, paintings, furniture and craft design, as well as architecture. Their new home on Wohllebengasse Street was a multi-use apartment/office building. Most of the furniture was made by Josef Hoffmann, one of the major craftsmen of the time, and designated as Wiener Werkstatte. Hermine Gallia had her portrait painted by Gustav Klimt, the great society painters, known for both his portraits and his nature paintings.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A World of Yesterday January 26, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I must admit this first, I absolutely love Habsburg history. I have read lots of it and it always interests me. So when I saw this book at the bookstore, I quickly rushed to buy it from the Kindle store. If you love Habsburg history, Fin-de-siècle Vienna/Europe, Art History, or just a beautifully written book, then please do yourself the favor of purchasing it.

This book captures the life of three generations of a family, the Gallas, who lived on Wohlenstrasse, the Good Living Street of the title. In focusing on these generations, the author captures the life and times of a certain section of upper class Jewish life, the bildungsbürgertum(educated, cultured bourgeoisie whose ideals the Galla family embody). Primarily the author focuses on the women of the family across the generations. There is Hermine, the autocratic matriarch of the family who cements her position in the world through her patronage of the arts, her daughters Gretl and Kathe, whose sibling rivalry is hard to observe, and her grandaughter, Annelore, whose identity is shaped by her poor treatment from her grandmother and her traumatic departure from Austria. Because this is the author's family that he is writing about, there is a certain amount of emotional connectedness in the writing.

Because this family was rich and was cultured, the story focuses on how this family used its wealth to support the arts and their own position in the world. This family gained its wealth and moved to Vienna during the nineteenth century.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Family Ties December 3, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A tale of one Jewish family's rise and fall from a prosperous and refined life style in Vienna to its forced exile at the hands of the Nazis.

The author, Tim Bonyhady, is a direct descendent of the subject family, which relocated to Australia after escaping Austria. He writes in a straight forward, but not lyrical, style.

I found most interesting the information on the great artists, such as Gustav Klimpt, who had ties with the family and the discussions within the book on how various members of the family handled (or hid) their own religious faith, with public conversion to Catholicism not infrequent for reasons of assimilation or survival.

The book at times drags when detailed lists of personal possessions are imposed on the reader. Also, learning about past petty frictions between sisters and other close relatives is not particularly edifying.

Note: I would encourage those interested in this period and general subject matter to read Edmund De Waal's "The Hare With the Amber Eyes."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Art historian, curator, and environmental lawyer Tim Bonyhady set quite a task for himself when he began detailing the lives of three generations of his family - he succeeded brilliantly. Readers are given an up close and personal look at early twentieth-century Viennese art, culture, and family life - among the well-to-do, that is. Bonyhady is both a fastidious and fascinating writer, painting vibrant word pictures that may, at times, seem a minor detail yet serve to completely portray an event or person.

We learn not only of his family's love of culture but also of fellow devotees among the wealthy Viennese Jews. The author's maternal great-grandparents, Moritz and Hermine Gallia, were leaders in this enthusiasm. They were Jews who had converted to Catholicism for practical purposes (allowing them to fill positions that would be otherwise prohibited to them as Jews). Vienna's modern artists, such as Gustav Klimt who painted Hermine's stunning full-length portrait benefitted from their patronage. Then, the Holocaust in Austria when their daughter, Kathe, was arrested by the Nazis. Along with older sister, Gretyl, the family sought refuge in Australia.

Amazingly enough the family was able to bring with them what has been called "the best private collection of art and design to escape Nazi Austria." Items included paintings, furniture, chandeliers, furs, and two pianos. Nonetheless their arrival in Sydney was disorienting and difficult.

Bonyhady has searched diaries, papers, letters, calendars, etc. to bring us a compelling and valuable true story. Through the eyes of his family he has enabled us to clearly see Vienna at its cultural apex, the rise of anti-Semitism, the persecution of the Jews, and the anguish of resettlement. This is not only an intriguing account but an important one.

Highly recommended.

- Gail Cooke
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Read
Just Ok, informative and interesting. Rather dull writing style. Poor editing.
Published 3 months ago by Isabora
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivid Description of Life, Culture, and Circumstances
This was a well-written and fluid book that takes the reader across several decades of Austria/Hungary at its artistic and cultural prime, to the annexation, Kristallnacht, and... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. V
4.0 out of 5 stars If you liked "The Hare with the Aber Eyes"...
A good view into fin de sicle Vienna and a Jewish family. I bought this after reading "The Hare with Amber Eyes" - in the same vein. Read more
Published 4 months ago by KatieSparkle
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a novel
Interesting read but not much human interest here....just facts about a very wealthy Jewish family living in Vienna during an historic period as the Nazis come to power. . Read more
Published 8 months ago by Julie A. Eaves
5.0 out of 5 stars Alive History
It portrays the history of Vienna, through a family, from before the Great War, practically to the present and how the Nazi tragedy (enthusiastically applauded, and here I'm... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Garty
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Very interesting
Published 12 months ago by dalia katz
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Mving Story of a Fascinating Family
Really liked this book and may read it again. The story is compelling and the characters well drawn. Highly recommended!
Published 18 months ago by S. Parry
4.0 out of 5 stars If only there had been even more
Everything T.B. covers is fascinating and if publishing constraints had allowed him to go into even more detail it would have been even better. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Elizabeth Boring
4.0 out of 5 stars A focussed and intruiging read
Good Living Street is one of those books which seems to be, on the surface, a family yarn. However, there is a lot more to this rare gem. Read more
Published on October 20, 2012 by Sunday Afternoon
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story of a Jewish family in WW2 Vienna
While slow to start, this develops into an interesting family history of a wealthy Jewish family in Vienna before and after WW2. Read more
Published on April 14, 2012 by StuieP
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