Media reports last week stated that an 1840 photograph found in Germany is of Mozart's widow, taken when she was 78. However, one scholar, a biographer of Constanze, says the claim is nonsense.
The daguerreotype was taken at the home of the Swiss composer Max Keller, whom Constanze used to visit regularly, in the Bavarian town of Altötting. Local authorities there said detailed examinations proved the authenticity of the image, which is a copy of the original daguerreotype.
However, late last week Agnes Selby, author of Constanze, Mozart's Beloved, wrote in a posting on the Classical Music Guide Forums website, "I am terribly sorry to disappoint people on this forum, but this is certainly not Constanze but someone's aunt." She also says that the image was doctored.
"The whole story was concocted by Keller's grandson … Constanze Mozart was crippled by arthritis by 1840 and died in 1842. There is absolutely no way she could have traveled to visit Maximillian Keller during the period when the photograph was taken. Contrary to the statements made in the newspaper, Constanze had no contact with Keller since 1826. There is no evidence that she had corresponded with him or visited him."
Selby adds that Constanze's extensive diaries and letters stored at the Mozarteum in Salzburg reveal no correspondence or visits between Keller and Constanze after 1826. "It is a pity, that people do not ask permission of the Mozarteum to study these diaries and letters before jumping to conclusions," she wrote.
The blog SoundsandFury quotes a letter from Dr. Michael Lorenz at the University of Vienna's Institute of Musicology, who also refutes the claim. He wrote, "The 'newly discovered' picture of Constanze Mozart has already been published twice in the 1950s ... For decades it has been known as a hoax among Mozart experts. There are no outdoor photographs of groups of people dating from 1840, because the lenses invented by Joseph Petzval, which were to make such portraits possible, were not available yet."
An 1840 daguerreotype reported last week to depict Mozart's widow Constanze (front left). Now several experts claim it's a hoax.