Johannes Schäfer

Portrait of philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer,

1859, albumen photograph


Johannes Schäfer (1822–1904)


Portrait of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) at age 71, one year before his death


March 1859


albumen photograph

16,2 × 12,8 cm

mounted to original cardboard (slightly toned), with photographer's blindstamp in lower edge

contained in the original blue-gray folder or mat from the period

on the mount lower right below the photograph, a dedication  in ink: "E.A. sn. l. [seinem lieben] Harald 1861" ["E.A. to his dear friend Harald 1861"]

on the cover of the folder in ink, the following inscription, possibly in the hand of the photographer Johannes Schäfer: "Herrn Dr Abbe Wohlgeboren" ["To well-born Dr. Abbe"]

Oxidation mirroring in dark areas, some retouched spots, slightly faded, otherwise in good condition.


Ernst Abbe (1840-1905), the noted German physicist and optics expert who co-founded the optical company Carl Zeiss AG

gifted by Abbe in December 1861 as a Christmas present to his friend Harald Schütz (1840-1915), thereafter by descent to his granddaughter Gretelotte Schütz (1908-2012 Westerstede)

Publication History:

Axel Schlote, Der jüngste Anhänger Schopenhauers, sein Vater und sein bester Freund, Über Harald Schütz, Carl Schütz und Ernst Abbe (Berlin: Parodos Verlag, 2022), ill. 13, pg. 65.


Much appreciation to Dr. Axel Schlote, D.Phil., author and philosopher, who discovered the association between this photograph and Ernst Abbe and his friend Harald Schütz, whose father Carl Schütz, a high school professor from Bielefeld, had corresponded with Arthur Schopenhauer.  Among his many observations and insights concerning the photograph, Dr. Schlote points out that this photograph is mentioned in a published letter from Abbe to Harald Schütz, dated December 21, 1861.  See: Volker Wahl and Joachim Witting, eds., Ernst Abbe. Briefe an seine Jugend- und Studienfreunde Carl Martin und Harald Schütz. 1858 -1865 (Berlin: Akademie- Verlag, 1986), at pg. 157 (Brief Nr. 44, 21. Dezember 1861).

Bassenge: "This portrait is possibly [in fact, definitely] referred to in a letter by Gustav Brecht, written in 1859 to Schopenhauer, stating: 'Der Photograph Schaefer wird sich nun zu näherer Rücksprache alsbald bei Ihnen melden. Ich habe mir alles Retouchiren im Gesicht verbeten, dagegen Hn Sch. ersucht, Ihnen das Bild nach Vollendung vorzulegen [The photographer Schaefer will soon contact you for closer consultation. I have forbidden any retouching in your face, but have asked Mr. Sch. to present the picture to you after completion]' Since the invention of photography, Schopenhauer had been interested in its further development and new discoveries. However, he preferred the older daguerreotype to the newer photographs on paper; he believed he looked much older on paper photographs."  




Jack Daulton

The Daulton Collection