Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

ca. 1733 ca. 1741 1746 1747 1748 1750

The S. G. Kütner Engraving of 1774 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.

1092-18A-0635.jpg  Loading 64973 bytes
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

The S. G. Kütner Engraving of 1774

1774sk-his33t5-0475.jpg  Loading 70658 bytes

Incredible as it seems, the first portrait print of Johann Sebastian Bach was not published until 1774. No such "popular" image is known to have been made in his lifetime, and no one is certain at this late date why the Kütner print was commissioned and published nearly 25 years after his death. Certainly, no description of it is more cogent or more succinct than that of Prof. Neumann:

"Oldest graphic representation of Bach, inscribed: "Gemalt von Haußmann/gestochen von S. G. Kütner, Leipz. 1774". This painter and etcher (1747-1828) was a drawing master in Mitau [now Jarselva in Latvia] from 1775 on, was a pupil of Johann Friedrich Bause (1738-1814) at the Leipzig Art Academy and a fellow student and friend of Johann Sebastian Bach the Younger (1748-1778), the son of C. P. E. Bach [cross reference omitted]. This drawing [sic] was obviously intended as a memento and probably made at the instigation of the last-named, who sent it to J. N. Forkel on 20 April 1774 with a letter recommending it as a "recent etching, finely done, and rather accurate, of my dear late father's portrait." It is highly probable that he provided his own Haussmann picture as the model [citations omitted], particularly if one assumes that this was the Haussmann replica of 1748 [cross reference omitted], the only portrait of the Haussmann group with the waistcoat similarly depicted. In other respects, this impressive mirror image of the original, more severe and grave, with the canon-sheet now outside the portrait and unsigned, and the costume more modern, was probably engraved by Kütner under Bause's influence...." (Neumann, BDL, p. 405)

It is indeed unfortunate that Kütner did not enter the date of the Haussmann model on which he based his engraving, but the circumstantial evidence points in no direction other than the 1748 version.

That Kütner's engraving ultimately was derived from the 1748 Haussmann, however, becomes even more apparent when one appropriately crops and "flops" the engraving and then compares it with the two Haussmann versions; in fact, that it is so clearly based on the 1748 Haussmann is almost dispositive evidence that the 1748 Haussmann portrait presently in the collection of William H. Scheide in Princeton, New Jersey, USA, is the Haussmann portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach that Burney saw when he visited Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach in Hamburg in 1772.

1761-08A-det2-if-0300.html  Loading 52668 bytes74sgk48eghjsb300eqflop.jpg  Laoding 64703 bytes1746EGH-1914-overpaintremoved-wocap-if-300.jpg  Loading 52397 bytes
1748 version; 1774 Kütner Engraving; 1746 version

C. P. E.'s candid assessment of the portrait print in his letter to Forkel describes it fittingly, and it is clear that C. P. E. found the portrayal sufficiently accurate to give it at least his satisfied "nihil obstat", if not his enthusiastic "imprimatur". It is worth noting, however, the careful wording. C.P. E. does not write that it is a fair likeness of his father, per se: he writes that the engraving is a "fair likeness of [his] dear late father's likeness."

That Forkel used the Kütner print as the basis for the frontispiece to his landmark, pioneering monograph on Bach when it finally was published, in 1802, nearly 30 years after he had received his exemplar of the Kütner engraving from C. P. E., is indicative of his faith in the representation that C. P. E. had made about its accuracy.

74sgk48eghjsb300.jpg  Loading 50212 bytes1802jnf74sgkjsb300.jpg  Loading 52201 bytes
S. G. Kütner, 1774; F. W. Nettling, 1802

Since Forkel is known to have spent six months working and studying in Leipzig in 1801, he surely must have had the opportunity to see the 1746 Haussmann, which was then in the possession of August Eberhard Müller, the newly appointed Cantor, resident in the Thomasschule, and I am confident that he did so. I am also confident that F. W. Nettling, the prominent local graphic artist who engraved the frontispiece for the Forkel biography saw it, too, because Bach's clothing has been reworked to agree with the underlying Haussmann model. Because the 1748 version was not in Leipzig in 1801 and the 1746 version was, the 1746 version has to have been the guide for the revised version of the Kütner print that became the frontispiece of the Forkel biography.

Another interesting question concerns Kütner's own access to the 1748 Haussmann portrait, which, by the 1773-1774 academic year, was in Hamburg with C. P. E., who had succeeeded his godfather Georg Philipp Telemann as that city's Director musices in 1768. That he was a friend and student colleague of the younger Johann Sebastian is documented, but when and where did Kütner see the 1748 version of the Haussmann, on which the engraving is clearly based, in order to copy it, if he actually saw the original at all?

One plausible scenario: Kütner took a vacation trip to Hamburg with his school chum, and the project was conceived, undertaken, and completed then and there. But, while that is possible, it somehow seems unlikely that Kütner actually engraved the image directly to the plate in C. P. E.'s home, with the 1748 Haussmann portrait in front of him. It would have been easier for him to make a good reference drawing from which to work at his leisure upon his return to Leipzig.

There is another possible scenario, however, that should not be overlooked. Johann Sebastian the Younger was himself an artist after all, and a good one. Is it not possible that it was he who made the now apparently lost "Stichvorlag" drawing of the 1748 Haussmann portrait of his grandfather, from which Kütner then engraved his portrait print?

Please click on 1092-18A-0100v.jpg  Loading 35034 bytes to return to the Index Page at The Face Of Bach.

Please click on abdyjsb2.jpg to visit the Johann Sebastian Bach Index Page at Teri Noel Towe's Homepages.

Please click on the crabby2.jpg to visit the Teri Noel Towe Welcome Page.

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

The Face Of Bach
Remains Profoundly Grateful to
The Rainbow Flag Civic Center

For Providing the Cyberspace for The Face Of Bach
For the First Eight Years of Its Existence.
Thank you, Nathan P. Johansen!
The Face Of Bach
Now Is Profoundly Grateful to
The Bach Cantatas Website

For Providing The Face Of Bach
With a New Home.
Thank you, Aryeh Oron!

The Face Of Bach is a PPP Free Early Music website.
192mammuthusimp.jpg  Loading 50906 bytes
The Face Of Bach
has received the HIP Woolly Mammoth Stamp of Approval from
The HIP-ocrisy Home Page.

ca. 1733 ca. 1741 1746 1747 1748 1750


Back to the Top

Last update: Sunday, July 02, 2017 03:52