[Liszt, Franz. (1811–1886)] Held, Louis. (1851–1927)
Four Original Photographs of Liszt and his Students
Four remarkable large original Louis Held group photographs of Liszt and his students, taken ca. 1880's at Liszt's Hofgärtnerei residence in Weimar. Two of the photographs show a group of Liszt's young male students striking comical poses in an outdoor location; in the first, seven men are present, and in the second, four more have joined them. We have identified among them Bernhard Stavenhagen (wearing a bowler hat at the upper right in the first photograph, and lounging with his hat taken off at the left of the middle row in the second) and Alexander Siloti (reclining on Stavenhagen's knee in the first photograph and sprawled with one hand raised in the second). The other two photographs show a larger group of men and women on the same occasion, one with Liszt visible looking out of the house window, and one with him seated in the front with his students at his feet, and close to 100 men and women grouped around. All stamped by Louis Held on the verso. Some light edge wear and small corner losses; rather buckled; overall very good. 10 x 8 inches (27.5 x 21.5 cm).
Carl Heinrich Louis Held was a German photographer known as a pioneer of photojournalism. He opened his first studio in Liegnitz in 1876, moved three years later to Berlin, and again three years later to Weimar. There, he became a protégé of Franz Liszt and was appointed court photographer of Carl Alexander, grand duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, in 1888. Held's many images of Liszt were instrumental in building the mystique around the beloved pianist and teacher.
"When Louis Held, the new 'court photographer,' arrived in Weimar in 1882 and opened his photography studio in Schillerstrasse, not far from the Hofgärtnerei, he gave the scribblers and chroniclers new standards of biographical exactitude to consider. [...] Held's portraits of Liszt and his circle are unsurpassed in both content and form. In May 1884 he thought nothing of seeting up his camera in front of more than a hundred members of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Tonkünstlerverein and capturing that large throng for posterity. [...] From time to time Held set up his equipment in the Hofgärtnerei itself, with telling results. The last series of Weimar portraits is filled with the loving detail that was typical of Held's work—the facial lines, the skin-tone, the lustrous hair, and the points of light in the eys which bring character to life." (Alan Walker, Franz Liszt, vol. 3, p. 7.)