Schumann, Clara. (1819–1896) [Busch, Fritz. (1890–1951)]
Large Signed Albumen Photograph from the Fritz Busch Collection
Impressive and unusually large original J & L. Allgeyer of Carlsruhe albumen portrait photograph of the great German pianist and composer, wife of Robert Schumann and famous muse of Johannes Brahms. Inscribed and signed by the subject lower right: "Zur freundlichen Erinnerung an / Clara Schumann / London April 1867" ("As a friendly memory to Clara Schumann, London, April 1867"). Inscribed also to the head in an unknown and somewhat later hand: "Für Grete Boettcher Mengeringhausen, Waldeck" ("For Grete Boettcher, Mengeringhausen, Waldeck"). Photograph 6.5 x 8.5 inches (16.5 x 12.6 cm.); full sheet 11.5 x 14.5 inches (29.2 x 36.8 cm.); framed to an overall size of 14.25 x 17 inches (36.2 x 43.2 cm.).
The present photograph was acquired from the Estate of the important German conductor Fritz Busch and was at some point inscribed to Grete Boettcher (1886–1966), the niece of his piano teacher, whom he married in 1911. Grete was the daughter of Friedrich Heinrich Wilhelm Boettcher (1842–1922), a journalist and politician who held a seat in the Reichstag in Berlin from 1874 to 1885. The family lived in Mengeringhausen, in the principality of Waldeck and Pyrmont, one of the lesser states of imperial Germany, to the west of Kassel. The present photograph is also notable for its large size and for the date, making this a quite early example of the albumen photography, a process developed only in the year or so prior to this inscription.
Clara Schumann first toured England in April 1856, while her husband was still living but unable to travel. She returned to London the following year and continued to perform in Britain for the next 15 years, frequently participating in the London Popular Concerts with Joachim and the celebrated Italian cellist Carlo Alfredo Piatti. George Bernard Shaw, the leading playwright and also a music critic, wrote that the Popular Concerts helped greatly to spread and enlighten musical taste in England.