Abstract

Taking as its point of departure C. P. E. Bach's extensive, and newly reconstructed, portrait collection, this essay explores the ways in which history in the late eighteenth century was conceived at the meeting point between the portrait collector, the physiognomist, and the anecdotist. Exploring the network of ideas and cultural practices by focusing on the collecting of individual countenances and their visual and literary representations, this article argues that anecdote, annotation, physiognomical analysis, and the visual discipline of portraiture were fundamental to the late eighteenth-century conception of music history. Further, it argues that C. P. E. Bach's activity as a portrait collector may be understood as a significant music-historiographical project in its own right, one which played an important role in the work of contemporary, and later, music historians.

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