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ca. 1733 ca. 1741 1746 1747 1748 1750

News About the Bach Portraits! Page at The Face Of Bach

The Face Of Bach

This remarkable photograph is not a computer generated composite; the original of the Weydenhammer Portrait Fragment, all that remains of the portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach that belonged to his pupil Johann Christian Kittel, is resting gently on the surface of the original of the 1748 Elias Gottlob Haussmann Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach.

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1748 Elias Gottlob Haussmann Portrait, Courtesy of William H. Scheide, Princeton, New Jersey
Weydenhammer Portrait Fragment, ca. 1733, Artist Unknown, Courtesy of the Weydenhammer Descendants
Photograph by Teri Noel Towe
©Teri Noel Towe, 2001, All Rights Reserved

News About The Bach Portraits!

October 30, 2001

The Face Of Bach And I Are Profiled In The UVA Lawyer.

 I am honored and pleased to report that the Fall, 2001, issue of The UVA Lawyer, the alumni magazine of the University of Virginia School of Law, from which I received my J. D. degree in 1973, includes an article by the magazine's Editor, Cathy Eberly, on me and on The Face Of Bach.

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©The UVA Lawyer, 2001

October 13, 2001

The Weydenhammer Portrait Fragment is Introduced to the Music Lovers of Australia.

I am delighted to report that the Weydenhammer Portrait Fragment has been introduced to music lovers in Australia, thanks to the delightful Wendy Robertson, whose brother is the unsurpassable Stanley Sadie, pre-eminent Handelian and Mozartian, and the Editor of both the first and the second editions of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Wendy is a member of the Perth Oratorio Choir, and, at the suggestion of her brother, she asked if a photograph of the Weydenhammer Portrait Fragment might be reproduced in the program book for the 25th anniversary concert of the Perth Oratorio Choir. The Weydenhammer Descendants were delighted by the request and granted their permission enthusiastically, for which I and the Perth Oratorio Choir are immensely grateful. Here are scans of the cover of the program book and the page on which theWeydenhammer Portrait Fragment made its debut in the Antipodes:

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October 3, 2001

The Weydenhammer Portrait Fragment Meets Rosalyn Tureck.

On the afternoon of October 3, 2001, the Weydenhammer Portrait Fragment and I had lunch in the lush garden at Barbetta, that unsurpassable Piemontese restaurant on New York's Restaurant Row, with my treaured friend and mentor of 32 years, Rosalyn Tureck, the "High Priestess of Bach". As you can see from this photograph, the two of them became friends at once:

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October 2, 2001

The Weydenhammer Portrait Fragment Meets Kurt Masur.

On October 2, 2001, I attended the luncheon in Avery Fisher Hall that the New York Philharmonic gave for its departing Music Director, Kurt Masur, on the occasion of the release of the 10 CD compilation of live performances of Maestro Masur conducting the New York Philharmonic in repertory that, with perhaps one exception, he has not recorded commercially. I first met Maestro Masur in 1986, when he honored The Laughing Cavalier with a broadcast interview on WBAI-FM. I know Maestro Masur's admiration for Bach, and I know it well. One of the two "live" performances of the Saint Matthew Passion that I have heard him conduct is included in the 10 CD compilation.

On impulse, I took the Weydenhammer Portrait Fragment with me to the luncheon, certain that Maestro Masur would be interested in it, if the occasion presented itself for me to show it to him. As it happened, both he and I arrived at the luncheon early. After greeting him and passing on some news about mutual friends in Leipzig, I explained that I had something that I wanted to show to him.

As I pulled the painting out of the tote bag, he exclaimed, "Bach!"

I shall treasure always the memory of Masur's delight when he saw the image, for he recognized the face at once, just as I had.

I replied, "Yes. The lost portrait."

"What?!!!" Astonishment now mingled with the delight on the Maestro's face.

I explained to him that the Weydenhammer Portrait Fragment is what remains of the long lost portrait of Bach that once belonged to his pupil, Johann Christian Kittel. So that he could see the back of the canvass, I removed the portrait from the glazed frame in which it is now kept. It was at that point that the New York Philharmonic's photographer, Chris Lee, realized that something quite unusual was happening, and he quickly took the series of photographs of which these two are a part.

I am immensely grateful to him and to my old and treasured friend, Marion Cotrone, who works for the New York Philharmonic, for these wonderful mementoes, and I also am immensely grateful to Maestro Masur not only for autographing the photographs but also for giving me permission to post them with this account of his introduction to the Weydenhammer Portrait Fragment here at The Face Of Bach.


Photographs by Chris Lee © 2001

March 28, 2001

The J. M. David Copy of the 1746 Haussmann Survives!

During the course of a conversation that I had this afternoon at Queens College of the City University of New York with Christoph Wolff, William Powell Mason Professor of Music at Harvard University, the Director of the Bach-Archiv, Leipzig, and the author of the magnificent new biography, Johann Sebastian Bach, The Learned Musician, about various aspects of the Bach iconography, he shared with me the wonderful news that the 1791 J. M. David copy of the 1746 Haussmann portrait did, in fact, survive the bombings of Berlin in World War Two, that it had been located, and that it is now in the collection of the Bach-Archiv, Leipzig. The photogravure of the David portrait that is reproduced here comes from the 1917 Bach Jahrbuch:

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In addition to its value as an early copy of the now much restored original, and thus to credibility as an accurate, though posthumous, depiction of the face of Johann Sebastian Bach, the 1791 David copy is also an enigma, and therein ultimately will lie a tale, as the saying goes. I look forward eagerly to the publication of color photographs and of the account of the picture's travels since it escaped destruction in Berlin in 1945.

Christoph also told me yet another portrait had surfaced in Austria, but that he did not have any specific knowledge about it as yet. I look forward his updates, and I shall share them with you as I receive them. Personally, I hope that it turns out to be the Berlin Portrait. 

March 21, 2001

The Curtain is Drawn Back for the First Time in 192 Years!

On the afternoon of March 21, 2001, at the end of the lecture entitled The Face Of Bach - The Search for the Portrait that Belonged to Kittel, that I gave at Queens College of the City University of New York, at the invitation of Profs. Hallmark and Erickson, I had "the privilege, the honor, and the joy of drawing back the curtain for the first time in 192 years" and unveiling to the audience the original of the Weydenhammer Portrait Fragment, which I had just demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt is what remains of the long lost portrait of Bach that belonged to his pupil, Johann Christian Kittel.

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Photos by Nancy Bareis, ©2001, Queens College

October, 2000

The Strad announces the Discovery of the Weydenhammer Portrait Fragment.

A news item on the announcement of the discovery of the Weydenhammer Portrait Fragment appeared in the October, 2000, issue of The Strad, the world's foremost magazine about every aspect of bowed string instruments:

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While much research still remains to be done, all of the potential objections to the painting's being an accurate depiction of the facial features of a Johann Sebastian Bach between 10 and 19 years younger than the Johann Sebastian Bach of the Haussmann Portraits of 1746 and 1748 have been effectively addressed in the expanded text of the lecture, entitled The Face Of Bach - The Search for the Portrait that Belonged to Kittel, that I gave at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College of the City University of New York on March 21, 2001, and that the evidence that I presented there supporting the identification of the Weydenhammer Portrait Fragment as what remains of the long lost portrait of Bach that belonged to his pupil, Johann Christian Kittel is both convincing and conclusive.

Teri Noel Towe
Most Recently Updated On November 11, 2001

P. S.:

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Copyright, Teri Noel Towe, 2000 , 2002
Unless otherwise credited, all images of the Weydenhammer Portrait:  Copyright, The Weydenhammer Descendants, 2000
All Rights Reserved

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ca. 1733 ca. 1741 1746 1747 1748 1750


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