Schubert, Franz - Signature:Enlarge Image Schubert, Franz - Signature:Schubert, Franz - Signature:Schubert, Franz - Signature:

Schubert, Franz (1797-1828)


"FSchubert". St. Pölken, 1821. Total size of autographed sheet: 3.25" h x 5.25" w. Total size of frame: 9" h x 11" w. In excellent condition and in a simple antique frame.
An exceedingly rare Schubert signature, signed in one of the most important years of his career.

Schubert has signed a small sheet bearing a printed basket of flowers and a charming German verse, noting the place and date: St. Pölken, 1821. A loose translation of the poem reads: The flowers wilt, the roses just as the carnations, but our friendship shall never wither.

This signature is not only rare, but also dates from one of the most consequential years of Schubert’s career, a year which was something of a turning point. As Grove's Online notes, although Schubert had written over three hundred Lieder by 1816, few of them were widely disseminated or performed. It was in 1821 that performances of his vocal music increased rapidly. He would publish the Erlkönig and Gretchen am Spinnrade that April, and by November he finally -- after two attempts over three years -- gained admission to the Gesellschaft für Musikfreunde.

While we cannot identify the exact date that Schubert signed this leaf, we can narrow it down to two possibilities, as Schubert was in St. Pölken in both the winter and late summer of 1821. While there on January 26, he attended the earliest documented Schubertiade, which was hosted by the sister of his very good friend Franz von Schober. By an extant account, Schubert performed several of his songs that evening for 14 friends, who listened until 10pm and then drank until 3am. It is possible that one of the attendees solicited this autograph, clearly coming prepared with a charming little lithograph to present to the up-and-coming young composer.

It is also possible that Schubert signed this sheet while visiting St. Pölken with Schober for four weeks in September. The pair stayed at Oschenburg Castle, which belonged to one of Schober's noble relations, and together worked on a new opera entitled Alfonso und Estrella. (Schober wrote the libretto). Although they seemed to have enjoyed collaborating, their opera was ultimately rejected by the Kärntnertortheater. Schober later described the piece as such a miserable, stillborn, bungling piece of work that even so great a genius as Schubert could not bring it to life.

A presentation inscription in French by artist Ferdinand Bac (1859-1952) is affixed to the frame's backing, translated: Autograph of F. Schubert. To Mr. and Mrs. De Saint-Martin I offer this modest relic as a witness to my admiration and my gratitude, Ferdinand Bac, 26 June 1937. Bac was the illegitimate nephew of Napoleon and a prolific caricaturist.

Although an occasional unsigned manuscript draft of Schubert’s music appears on the market, any other form of Schubert autograph is exceedingly rare, which is understandable given Schubert's early death at age 31. He was also only known to a small circle of admirers in Vienna during his lifetime. This signature is the only one we have ever had.

SIG-15569$25,000Share on Facebook