Joseph Führich vs Hugo (II) Karl Eduard of Salm-Reifferscheidt: The Changing Relationship between Artist and Aristocratic Patron in Bohemia of the 1820s and 1830s


In late January or early February 1826, Count Hugo (II) Karl Eduard of Salm-Reifferscheidt visited the Prague studio of the painter Joseph Führich to discuss commissioning two paintings from the artist on a theme from the drama The Life and Death of St Genevieve by German romantic writer Ludwig Tieck. The paintings were intended for Salm's friend, historian, writer and publisher Joseph von Hormayr. This marked the beginning of several years of cooperation between these two men – an artist and a nobleman – which ultimately gave rise to a number of remarkably good or otherwise noteworthy works by Führich. At the same time, however, the initial ideas of the investor often differed from the final work and there were even conflicts between them, which were openly commented on in letters exchanged between members of the Salm-Reifferscheidt family. The twists and turns in their relationship illustrate the changing nature of aristocratic patronage as it evolved from the courtly ties of the early modern age into a relationship representative of the modern free market, a transition that took place in Bohemia in roughly the first third of the 19th century.