Published on Franz Liszt Group, on September 1st, 2021. If you want to know how the Story Behind series started, I give details in “Story Behind” Series #1″.
Some group members asked for details about this picture, that is rarely published.
I replied: “I am still away for my European tour but as soon as I come back in September I will write a few “story behind” posts.”
Here is the story I posted after my trip regarding this picture.
As promised, I tried to gather information about this picture to write a new “story behind” post. It took me longer than usual to write it. This picture of Liszt is a daguerreotype probably taken in 1846, or maybe in 1847. We don’t know for sure, and we don’t know the author of this specific daguerreotype. However, we can look at the existing daguerreotypes of Liszt and see how they are related.
As a reminder, the daguerreotype is an early photographic technique invented by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre.
I already wrote a “story behind” post about the very first one, taken in 1843. There were two daguerreotypes taken, one with the jacket closed, and one with the jacket open. The second one is sometimes dated 1841 but we know today that the one with the jacket open was taken after the 1843 one. It is possible that it was taken the same day as there are common elements that can be detected, such as the scarf Liszt is wearing with its specific clip, but also the way his glasses are attached and the curtain behind him. Here are the two pictures for reference.
For this specific one posted here, taken in 1846 or 1847, it might have been made in Paris by Louis-Auguste Bisson, who also took a recently (2017) discovered daguerreotype of Chopin in 1847.
It is also possible that it was taken by Jean-Baptiste Sabatier-Blot who later took a picture of Anna Liszt, the composer’s mother, in Paris in 1860. Daguerreotypes were already out of fashion but there might have been an earlier connection between Liszt and Sabatier-Blot.
I looked at possible relationships between Liszt and other photographers specialized in daguerreotypes such as the Natterer brothers in Vienna, and Adolphe Legros and Eduard Vaillat in Paris, but I didn’t find any. I also looked at the photographers’ ateliers to see if I could recognize the furniture or tablecloth in some other pictures, but since the camera was often taken out of the atelier and brought to people’s homes, it is plausible that this 1846-47 picture was taken in Liszt’s lodging.
There is still another option. Liszt was still touring Europe in 1846 and 1847. He met Princess Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein in February 1847 in Kiev. In 1847, there was a daguerreotype of Princess Carolyne made by Joseph Weninger in Kiev (discovered and restored in 2014). It might be possible that this picture was made by the same photographer in Kiev since we don’t know exactly where it was taken. I like to imagine that they did it together 🙂