Think that you may own a portrait of composer Johann Sebastian Bach? We authenticate, appraise, research and issue certificates of authenticity (COA) and provide consultations for all portraits of Johann Sebastian Bach.
There are only a few authentic portraits of world renowned composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach, a German composer of the Baroque period, was born in 1685 and died in 1750. To date, only three portraits of Bach have been authenticated. The first portrait was painted by Johann Jakob Ihle in 1720. Bach was about thirty five years old in the painting. At the time, Bach worked as chapel master to Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cothen. The painting was identified in 1905. Its owner, a baker, said that his grandfather, who had worked as a gardener in the old castle of the Margraves of Bayreuth, had discovered it there in a pile of trash and brought it home over forty years ago.
A Portrait of Bach in Old Age
The second portrait was painted by Elias Gottlieb Haussmann in 1723 in Leipzig, Germany. Haussmann also painted the third and final portrait of Bach in 1746. This is the only portrait whose authenticity cannot be questioned. When this portrait was painted he was composing the Canonic Variations on Von Himmel hoch for the society in addition to a single canon which each member received a copy of. In this portrait, he is holding this canon in his right hand.
Portrait #1, Johann Jakob Ihle, 1720
These three are the only existing portraits of Bach. There are some others, but they were painted after his death. Although highly unlikely, it is certainly possible that another portrait may appear. The last portrait discovered (Ihle, 1720) had originally been discovered in a pile of trash in the 1800's.
Portrait #2, Elias Gottlieb Haussmann, 1723
How is it that such a respected composer could have so few portraits commissioned of himself during his lifetime? It is highly likely that many more portraits of the famed musician are in existence, but are not attributed to an artist or are unidentified. One possibility may be a portrait of Bach as a boy or young man, or perhaps one painted when he was very old. The discovery of an authentic portrait of Bach would be very valuable, whether or not the painter of the portrait was renowned.
Portrait #3, Elias Gottlieb Haussmann
Still wondering about an 18th century portrait in your family collection? Contact us... the sitter in your portrait could be Johann Sebastian Bach.
Bach as a Young Man