The Temple of Fame and Friendship: Portraits, Music, and History in the C. P. E. Bach Circle
by Annette Richards
University of Chicago Press
eISBN: 978-0-226-81677-7 | Cloth: 978-0-226-80626-6

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | TOC
ABOUT THIS BOOK
This book examines the renowned portrait collection assembled by C. P. E. Bach, J. S. Bach’s second son.
 
One of the most celebrated and prolific German composers of the eighteenth century, C. P. E. Bach spent decades assembling a portrait collection that extended to some four hundred items—from oil paintings to engraved prints. The collection was dispersed after Bach’s death in 1788, but Annette Richards has painstakingly reconstructed it. The portraits once again provide a vivid panorama of music history and culture, reanimating the sensibility and humor of the time in which they were made. Far more than merely a multitude of faces, Richards argues, the collection was a major part of the composer’s work that sought to establish music as an object of aesthetic, philosophical, and historical study.

Richards makes the collection come alive, showing readers what it was like to tour the portrait gallery and experience music in a room whose walls were packed with art. She uses the collection to analyze the “portraitive” aspect of Bach’s music, engaging with the influential theories of Swiss physiognomist Johann Caspar Lavater. She also explores the collection as a mode of cultivating and preserving friendship, connecting this to the culture of remembrance that resonates in Bach’s domestic music. Richards shows how the new music historiography of the late eighteenth century, rich in anecdote, memoir, and verbal portrait, was deeply indebted to portrait collecting and its negotiation between presence and detachment, fact and feeling.

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