Göttingen Profiles between Enlightenment and Romanticism

Goettinger_ProfileIn 1920, Erich Ebstein (1880–1931), Göttingen physician, writer, and bibliophile, acquired an album with 41 silhouettes collected during 1784–86 in Göttingen by the Hungarian student Gregorius Franz von Berzeviczy. These silhouettes include not only Berzeviczy’s own friends and personal acquaintances, but also many members of the Göttingen university faculty along with their daughters and other family members.

Although Caroline left Göttingen just before Berzeviczy arrived, having married in June 1784, she knew virtually all these faculty members and their families, and mentions them in her letters. One may also surmise that her own family in Göttingen, including her younger sisters, knew some of the students in the album; moreover, one sister — Lotte Michaelis — appears in the album herself.

Although Ebstein, who was also interested in the life and work of Gottfried August Bürger, published eight of these silhouettes in 1921, the rest are published here for the first time. Erika Wagner provides biographical information on all the persons depicted in the album, often accompanied by revealing vignettes of university life in Göttingen. Ulrich Joost adds an afterword concerning the overall disposition and background of the book, and Gudrun Dochow a succinct and informative introduction to the actual process of making silhouettes and their social significance at the time.

A fascinating and evocative presentation of university personalities in Göttingen and of many persons appearing in Caroline’s correspondence. Available from the Dosse Verlag (2011) under the rubric Biographies.

Gregorius_Franz_von_BerzeviczyGregorius Franz von Berzeviczy (1763–1822), whose letters home to his mother during his university days also provide information about university life in Göttingen at the time, later became a deputy in the Hungarian parliament and one of four secular inspectors of the Protestant church in Hungary. He also published significant pieces on economics before retiring to his estate in Nagy-Lomnicz.

Gregorius Franz von Berzeviczy, Göttinger Profile zwischen Aufklärung und Romantik, ed. Erika Wagner and Ulrich Joost (Neustadt 2011).