Mobile menu

Papers relating to Prince Albert’s personal life and enthusiasms

Alexander von Minutoli

Letter from Herr Minutoli, in Liegnitz, regretting the delay in sending the promised photograph of his Raphael picture for the Prince Consort's collection, explaining the difficulty of photographing it, and sending proof copies of his failed attempts. 29 May 1859

Loose manuscript paper; mounted | 1 document (4 pages) (whole object) | RA VIC/ADDA10/85/405

Your share link is...


Minutoli writes that he is ashamed not to have written for so long, and is even sorrier to report that he still cannot fulfil his promise to send an acceptable photograph of his Raphael picture for the Prince Consort's collection; all his attempts so far have failed. He goes on to explain the reasons. The picture, painted on old Italian wood, has become warped and has an undulating surface which is almost unnoticeable to the eye, but which makes it impossible to photograph. Because of the very dark tones of the picture, it needs particularly strong frontal lighting, and this causes reflections that make all irregularities on its surface appear in the photograph as white blotches, breaking up the composition. All Minutoli's attempts to overcome this failed, although he tried different locations, and finally outside. He had to give up his attempts last summer when he had royal visitors during the manoeuvres; there was no point in trying again in winter; the spring has at last brought back the sunshine, but despite this he has had no better results. If it can be called some consolation, he has sought the advice of certain skilled photographers who were passing through, and asked them to try, but they all declared it impossible and their attempts were even worse than his. Minutoli comments that the photograph could be retouched, but it would lose too much of the original for him to dare send a retouched photograph to such a knowledgeable connoisseur as the Prince without first asking if he wished it done. The proofs he is sending will allow HRH to judge whether a retouched photograph would be of interest for his collection. He asks Dr. Becker to explain to the Prince what has happened, and to seek his wishes. Minutoli adds that the last part of the photographic 'Vorbildeswerk' [publication on Minutoli's applied art collection] has recently been completed. Finally, in a postscript, he states that he has made enquiries in Dresden, Leipzig and St. Petersburg as to the whereabouts of the Raphael drawing belonging to the late Stackelberg, but has had no success. Baron Ungern-Sternberg is his last hope, but he has had no response from him yet. Alexander von Minutoli collected objects of the applied and decorative arts and exhibited them as models for craftsmen and artisans; his collection formed the basis of the first Museum of Applied Arts in Germany (like the V&A in its original form). The identity of Stackelberg is not clear, but he may have been the archaeologist Otto Magnus von Stackelberg (1786-1837).
  • Creator(s)

    Alexander von Minutoli (writer)

    Dr Ernst Becker (1826-88) (addressee)

  • 1 document (4 pages) (whole object)

  • Object type(s)
      • printed & manuscript material
        • documents
          • correspondence