Iconic Bach portrait comes back home to Germany

Best-known portrait of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach welcomed back in his home city in emotional ceremony Friday

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The best known portrait of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach was unveiled with grand ceremony in his former home city, Leipzig, after an odyssey for the painting sparked by the rise of the Nazis. 

The 1748 oil painting by Elias Gottlob Haussmann shows the composer aged around 60 holding the score to one of his canons.

US philanthropist William Scheide, a rich businessman who has devoted his life to musicology and rare books, left the painting to the Leipzig Bach Archive is his will before he died in November at the age of 100.

The Leipzig Bach Archive announced the good news by saying "Bach is coming home!" in April.

The painting was unveiled in a ceremony  held in the eastern city of Leipzig, accompanied by a choir.

Bach is best known for composing The Brandenburg Concertos and was described by the 18th century composer Ludwig Van Beethoven as "the immortal god of harmony."

His portrait by painter Elias Gottlob Haussmann is now valued at $2.5 million (2.2 million euros).

The painting is also considered as the most authentic depiction of the Baroque period composer and appears in many biographies.

The Bach museum said "The portrait, which probably everyone has already seen once in their life, is an icon of music history and, to judge by the sources, is the only true portrayal of the composer."

The organisation also added "All the portraits of Bach known today stem from this one painting."

Now the Leipzig archive is putting the portrait on permanent public display for the first time since the 18th century.

TRTWorld and agencies