Bach’s countenance

In 2008 scholars at the Centre for Forensic and Medical Art at the University of Dundee used forensic techniques to produce a reconstruction of Bach’s face on the basis of his skull.

According to its author, Markus von Hänsel-Hohenhausen, Vom Sichtbaren zur Wirklichkeit: Das wahre Antlitz Johann Sebastian Bachs (Frankfurt am Main: Frankfurter Verlagsgruppe, 2009) raises fundamental questions relating to image theory, considering the power of the image, the possibility of accessing reality through subjectivity (that is, the objectivity that arises from a dual subjectivity), the rendering of real “presence” by means of technically accurate representation, and the physicality (and noticeable absence of spirit) that results from the application of technical methods alone, e.g., in the case of Andy Warhol’s work.

Beginning with reflections on the royal portrait, Christian ritual, and Jesus Christ’s crown of thorns, the book then delivers a clear statement about the significance of portraits of Bach, at the same time offering therein an answer to the question: Does a person really have a true countenance?

Above, the reconstruction with the 1746 portrait by Elias Gottlob Haußmann, the only portrait Bach is known to have sat for.

3 Comments

Filed under Baroque era, Curiosities, Iconography

3 Responses to Bach’s countenance

  1. I guess to me the most surprising thing is that they have his skull.

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