Contributor: Alexander Knopf
Location: Freies Deutsches Hochstift / Frankfurter Goethe-Museum, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
Description: In October 1809, Bettine Brentano sent a long letter to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. With this letter, a remarkable etching was enclosed. The work, fashioned by Ludwig Emil Grimm (1790-1863), depicted Bettine herself, sitting on a chair with a voluminous book. A closer look reveals the title on the spine. It is Achim von Arnim’s Wintergarten, a collection of short stories published in 1809. Yet Bettine does not hold the book like a reader. With the folded hands pressing the book against her bosom, she seems to rock it like her own child. The whole composition is meant to display a link between the book or, respectively, its author and Bettine’s heart. In 1811, Bettine would become von Arnim’s wife. The portrait, however, was first sent to Goethe. The feelings suggested by the picture were not exactly the feelings that Bettine was harbouring in her chest.