Schumann, 1839

Robert Schumann (1810 - 1856)

Robert Schumann (1810 - 1856), aged 29 
Lithograph by Joseph Kriehuber, Vienna 1839
Society of Music Friends in Vienna / Archives, Library, Collections 

Schumann's portrait by Joseph Kriehuber, who created numerous lithographs of prominent and also today less known figures of the Vienna of those years, was made during the six-month stay of Robert Schumann in Vienna (autumn 1838 - spring 1839). This representation which, like all Kriehuber portraits, highlights the good looks of the model, shows Schumann still bearing an amazing resemblance to his portrait as a youth in the miniature of around 1826 (cf. Fig. 1). Given its significant distribution and frequent reprint in the Schumann literature of the 19th century already, it is certainly one of the best-known portraits of Robert Schumann and the last one that was made before this marriage to Clara Wieck in September 1840. For Schumann himself, it was apparently the only portrait he appreciated:"Von meinen Bildern taugt keines viel, etwa das Kriehubersche ausgenommen" ["None of my pictures is worth a lot, perhaps with the exception of the one by Kriehuber."].Kriehuber's Schumann portrait consolidated the image of Robert Schumann as "ewig junger Romantiker" ["ageless Romanticist"], particularly in the 19th and early 20th century (B. Appel, in: ZeitgenössischePorträts [Contemporary Portraits], p. 36). But the image of the later and more than ten years older Schumann as a melancholic is at least equally well known, in the way it was retained in a daguerreotype of 1850 and also had become a master for countless reproductions which, however, are at least partly based on a charcoal drawing of 1859 made posthumously by Eduard Bendemannafter this photographic prototype.


(I.B., translated by Thomas Henninger)