Until today the world only knew Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) via the oil painting Elias Gottlob Haussmann made of the composer in 1746. Now, a painting long thought to be lost has reappeared in Berlin. This is a pastel painting dating from 1730 when Bach was 45 years old and has been purchased by the Bach Museum in Eisenach, for 50,000 euros or about $70,000.
The pastel, which has a Bach 16 years younger than Haussmann’s oil painting, has been carefully studied and according to the director of the Bach Museum, Jörg Hansen, it is an authentic portrait of Johan Sebastian Bach. The authentication of the canvas comes from a detailed comparison between the Hausmann painting and the newly discovered painting.
According to Hansen, the existence of the pastel has long been known through two letters of Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel , who wrote that he was in possession of the portrait which had been acquired by a private collector .
Now, the hometown of Bach , Eisenach and where he died, Leipzig, each have a portrait of the German composer: the well-known Hausmann painting occupies a site in the Old City of Leipzig, while the Bach Museum in Eisenach house the recovered portrait which will be presented to the public in the Cathedral of Berlin from 13 March. Under the heading ‘ Echt Bach ! «(The Real Bach!), the Bach Museum in Eisenach presents a series of objects and documents in the Berlin Cathedral around the most famous composer of Baroque music, including the first known portrait of the composer .
According to Hansen, the box was discovered between 1927 and 1928 as part of the collection of Manfred Gorke of Eisenach who inherited the portrait from his great grandfather. After the dissolution of the Gorke’s collection, the painting ended up in Berlin and then its whereabouts were lost. The recovered Bach portrait now returns to its native Eisenbach