Supplementary Appendix 181c.1

Visits with the Tischbein Family in Dessau (May) 1797, (September) 1798

Although Caroline does not mention having been in Dessau during the spring of 1797 following her, Wilhelm’s, and Auguste’s (first) trip to Dresden (though see below), she does mention on 20 September 1798 (letter 203a) that they would be returning to Jena from their (second) trip to Dresden by way of Dessau, and on 14 October 1798 (letter 204) that while in Dessau they had spoken with “a young man in Dessau who had just come from Vienna etc.”

Although Josef Körner, Krisenjahre 3:14, (correctly) takes for granted that the September 1798 visit took place, some confusion obtains concerning these visits. Here in any case the locales at issue (map: Post Karte Durch ganz Deutschland, ed. J. Walch [Augsburg 1795]; [illustration 1] engraving of Dessau by Mattäus Merian [1650]; [illustration 2] street scene in Dresden ca. 1750 by Bernardo Belotto):




In her memoirs, Caroline Wilken, née Tischbein remarks: [1]

During the second year we lived in Dessau, he [Wilhelm Schlegel] brought his young wife and his extraordinarily charming stepdaughter to Dessau, where they stayed with us for about two weeks. This stepdaughter, Auguste Böhmer, was an amiable young girl about fourteen years old and had, one had to admit, been well raised.

The Tischbeins had moved to Dessau in early December 1795, which suggests that Caroline Wilken is speaking about 1797, though she specifies no month. Otto Fiebiger accepts that the visit took place in 1797 following the Schlegels’ trip to Dresden that spring: [2]

The Schlegels had been in Dresden during April [1797] with little Auguste, who was twelve years old at the time, Caroline’s daughter from her first marriage, and paid a lengthy visit to their Dessau friends before their return to Jena.

Concerning Auguste’s age, however, Fiebiger comments in a note: [3] “The information in Stoll, op. cit. 301, that Auguste was approximately fourteen years old at the time is incorrect.”

In her letter to Luise Gotter in early 1797 (letter 180), Caroline (Schlegel) mentions the possibility that after their (first) trip to Dresden in the spring, they might return to Jena by way of “Dessau, Halle, etc.” We know that Wilhelm, Caroline, and Auguste departed Jena for their first trip to Dresden on 10 April 1797, [4] but there is no mention of a stopover in Dessau on the return trip. [5] The trio then returned to Jena by way of Leipzig on 20 May 1797, [6] having been in Pillnitz as late as 14 May. [7]

Although they may well have spent a week in Dessau (approximately between 14 and 20 May 1797), other factors complicate (but do not render impossible) that conclusion, namely, that Caroline Wilken, née Tischbein, may be mistaken in her own reckoning regarding the “second year” in Dessau, and Fiebiger in his criticism of the information in Stoll that Auguste was “about fourteen years old” at the time.

Shortly before mentioning the Schlegels’ visit in Dessau during that “second year” of the Tischbeins’ residency in Dessau, Caroline Wilken discusses her confirmation in the spring of 1799 and remarks that she had just turned fifteen and was about to begin a new stage of life, including a stay in Weimar, after which she, her sister, and her mother spent time with the Schlegels in Jena as well (Auguste would travel back to Dessau with them, where she would stay for several weeks during that same autumn of 1799, whence also Caroline’s letters to her during that period).

It is then, and only as an aside, that Caroline Wilken remarks that the Schlegels had visited them in Dessau during the “second year,” after which she then goes on to mention Auguste’s approximate (apparently current, i.e., in the autumn of 1799) age. Auguste, born in April 1785, would indeed turn fourteen in 1799, and Caroline Wilken herself, born on 5 November 1783, would turn fifteen during that autumn of 1798; so the ages of these two girls seem to be accurately given in these memoirs if the general reference is indeed to the Tischbeins’ own visit to Jena in the summer and autumn of 1799 (for that matter, Caroline Wilken may even be conflating Auguste’s return visit to the Tischbeins in Dessau in the autumn of 1799 after their visit in Jena) and/or to the Schlegels’ stay in Dessau during the autumn of 1798 rather than their visit in Dessau in the spring (May?) 1797.

Caroline Wilken also mentions Wilhelm’s professorship in Jena, which came about during the summer of 1798. [8] She remarks: [9] “From Dessau, the Schlegels were heading to Jena, where he had accepted a professorship.” [10]

But if the Schlegels did indeed visit the Tischbeins in Dessau during late September 1798 as confirmed by Caroline’s letters of 20 September and 15 October 1798 (letters 203a, 204), Caroline Wilken’s recollections seem to be correct, even that an earlier visit might have taken place during the second year the Tischbeins lived in Dessau, namely, after 14 May 1797; [11] a second visit then seems to have taken place during their third year in Dessau as well, namely, after 20 September 1798, albeit one Caroline Wilken does not seem to mention in her memoirs, conflates with the first, and/or mentions only implicitly in remarking that Wilhelm was on his way back to Jena to begin his professorship.


[1] Adolf Stoll, “Aus zwei Aufzeichnungen von Karoline Wilken über ihren Vater Johann Friedrich August Tischbein und über ihre eigene Jugendzeit,” in Der Geschichtschreiber Friedrich Wilken (Cassel 1896) 301; also in Adolf Stoll, Der Maler Joh. Friedrich August Tischbein und seine Familie: Ein Lebensbild nach den Aufzeichnungen seiner Tochter Caroline (Stuttart 1923), 109. Back.

[2] Otto Fiebiger, “Johann Friedrich August Tischbein und August Wilhelm Schlegel,” Die Grenzboten (1917), 339. Back.

[3] Fiebiger, 339n92. Back.

[4] See Wilhelm to Karl August Böttiger from Jena on 10 April 1797 (letter 181c). Back.

[5] Friedrich Schlegel similarly writes to Auguste on her birthday (28 April) in 1797 while she is yet in Dresden (letter 181d) but makes no mention of Dessau or the Tischbeins, not even of the two Tischbein daughters, as one might expect. Back.

[6] Körner-Wieneke 267; Körner (1930) 2:23. Back.

[7] Wilhelm to Wilhelm Gottlieb Becker on that date, cited in letter 181c (see above), note 1. Back.

[8] See Wilhelm’s correspondence with Gottlieb Hufeland and Christian Gottfried Schütz during that summer (letters 202c–e). Back.

[9] Stoll (1896), 302; (1923), 110. Back.

[10] Significantly, Fiebiger (1917), 339n95, recognized that this assertion would not fit a visit in Dessau in the spring of 1797. Back.

[11] Not, as Adolf Stoll (1923), 83, maintains, in April 1797:

The following month [viz., April, after the birth of the Tischbein’s third child, Karl Wilhelm, on 2 March 1797], the Schlegel couple also came for a visit in Dessau on their return trip from Dresden; during these two weeks, the two wives also got to know each other and even develop a fondness for each other, and their three daughters similarly became fast friends. Back.

© 2012 Doug Stott