Rudolf Julius Benno (1806–1882) and Pauline (1809–1895) Hübner, née Bendemann

Julius Hübner, self portrait from 1864.  Reproduction of an older copy of the original drawing
[fig.] Julius Hübner, self portrait from 1864. Reproduction of an older copy of the original drawing

Born in Oels in 1806, the history, portrait and genre painter Julius Hübner first studied at the Royal Academy of Arts in Berlin and at the age of sixteen joined the atelier of Wilhelm von Schadow.

In 1826, together with a number of other pupils, he followed his teacher to Düsseldorf, where Schadow had been appointed Director of the local Academy of Arts. In the year of his marriage to Pauline Bendemann, the sister of the painter Eduard Bendemann, Julius Hübner went on a long journey to Italy with his wife; their first daughter was born in Rome. Until his appointment in Dresden in 1839, Hübner stayed in Düsseldorf.

In Dresden, Hübner received a professorship at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1841, and in 1871 he also became Director of the Picture Gallery. Clara and Robert Schumann met Julius and Pauline Hübner and also the Bendemanns during their time in Dresden and became close friends with the painter and his wife. A visit to the house of the Hübners is mentioned for the first time in Schumann’s Housekeeping Book on 15th May 1846. The contact became more and more lively, music was made at the house of the Schumanns or the Hübners, and the Bendemanns often joined these gatherings as well. Views on music and visual arts were exchanged, but also about politics. In 1848, Clara Schumann thus once actually quarrelled with Pauline Hübner about politics, at which she was rather surprised herself, as noted in her diary. Julius Hübner was also the godfather of the son Ludwig, born in the same year, of whom he would also take care in later years when his illness turned out to be incurable and admission to an institution became unavoidable. For instance, Clara Schumann wrote to Johannes Brahms on 5th May 1870 that Ludwig had been very ill and that she “[had asked Hübner to consult with some physicians and to act on my behalf, as could only be done by a man in this case.]” In the meantime, Julius Hübner had also taken on guardianship of Ludwig.

Twenty years earlier, when Clara and Robert Schumann moved from Dresden to Düsseldorf, Clara noted in her diary: “[The Bendemanns are really the only ones (the Hübners, of course, included) to whom to say goodbye will be very hard for me!]” A sign of their closeness was also the pencil drawing by Julius Hübner’s own hand, held today at the Heinrich Heine Institute (Dickinson Collection), which he provided with the dedication “[Andante pastorale, Var. 1ma [?] / dedicated to Mrs Clara Schumann by Julius Hübner, Dresden, 1846]”. This sheet is part of various studies of Hübner’s "golden age" in the 1840s.

Even after the departure of the Schumanns, the friendship remained and when Clara later returned to Dresden to give concerts, she usually stayed with the Hübners.

When Clara Schumann celebrated her 50th anniversary as an artist on 20th October 1878, she received many official honours, but also a watercolour pen drawing which Eduard Hübner, born in 1842, had made on behalf of his parents. With his drawing, he framed a self-composed and very personal tribute poem “[To Clara Schumann]”; this sheet is now held in the archives of the Robert Schumann House in Zwickau.

When Julius and Pauline Hübner were to celebrate their golden wedding in 1879, “[good advice was precious]” as to the gift Clara Schumann should present them, but then her daughter Marie had the idea that the mother should compose a march and include in there Robert Schumann’s duet “Grandfather and grandmother”. And so, after a break of more than twenty years, Clara Schumann’s very last composition was created, her March in E-flat major for piano four hands, which was published by Gerd Nauhaus only in 1996. A version for two hands, which Clara presented to her daughter Elise, has, however, remained unpublished to this day. Clara dedicated this March, which also vaguely reminds of Schumann’s “Manfred”, “[To my dear friends Julius and Pauline Hübner, as a festive greeting on 21st May 1879”. Subsequently, Julius Hübner sent Clara a warm letter of thanks along with a printed poem, “[The new Polycrates]”.
Clara Schumann survived both Julius and Pauline Hübner, with whom she shared happy memories of their years in Dresden and her husband.

(Julia M. Nauhaus, translated by Thomas Henninger)


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