[Note: This post has been updated (2) as of 1:32 PM Eastern on 10 Jul. See below.]
Do you recognize anyone in this photo, c. 1840?
No? No cause for embarrassment. There's no reason you should, actually. It's the just discovered and only photograph (copied from a daguerreotype) of none other than Mozart's widow, Constanze, age 78, seen in the photo at front left.
Update (9:54 PM Eastern on 7 Jul): Or maybe not. Agnes Selby, author of Constanze, Mozart's Beloved writes:
I am terribly sorry to disappoint people ..., but this is certainly not Constanze but someone's aunt.
The whole story was concocted by Keller's grandson. I[n] Australia we refer to such rantings as "dropping names". If with good luck for the name dropper the press gets hold of it, fame for the name dropper ensues.
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.
Read the rest here.
Update 2 (1:32 PM Eastern on 10 Jul): We've received an informative eMail from Dr. Michael Lorenz, Institute of Musicology, University of Vienna, which eMail we, with permission, reprint below. Our thanks to Dr. Lorenz.
Dear Mr. Douglas,
The "newly discovered" picture of Constanze Mozart has already been published twice in the 1950s, the last time in an article by E. H. Mueller von Asow in the Österreichische Musikzeitschrift, March 1958, p. 93. 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. It was simply not possible in 1840 to take sharp outdoor pictures of people as long as the necessary exposure time still amounted to about three minutes. The first outdoor portraits of human beings originate from the 1850s and the picture in question definitely looks like an amateur snapshot from the 1870s. If the BBC (or anyone else) knows a verified group portrait originating from 1840, I would like to see it. But the guys in Altötting wanted to have their share of fun and publicity in the Mozart-year.
Dr. Michael Lorenz
Institute of Musicology
University of Vienna
Dr. Lorenz also supplies a link to this corroborating document (i.e., corroborating the initial claim of authenticity).