Are Gutekunsts good at Art?


Well,... maybe. There are two notable artists among this family that I know of.

One was the German painter Johann Gottlieb Gutekunst, who in 1827 was asked by the King Wilhelm I. of Württemberg (reigned 1816-1864) to decorate the interior of his new chateau in Stuttgart, the "Schloss Rosenstein". Today this beautiful building is Stuttgart's Museum of Natural History.



The Rosenstein Chateau in Stuttgart
..............Interior of the Chateau - Ceiling decorated by J.G. Gutekunst
King William I of Württemberg

The whole story can be found (in German) at:


Julius Gutekunst (1883-1966) of the Haiterbach line was a gifted painter, whose works reflect the landscape of the upper Rhine valley around Kehl and Strassburg where he grew up.

Vistit this site for his life story and an overview of his paintings.



Another talented Gutekunst was the American Photographer Frederick F. Gutekunst Jr. of Philadelphia (1831-1917). He was a favored photographer by the East Coast Elite and even celebreties like the shy Walt Witman and Civil War Hero General Grant, who later became President of the United States, had their picture taken by him.



Unknown Union Officer taken by F. Gutekunst ca. 1860
Photo by F. Gutekunst

Frederick Gutekunst was a daguerreian from 1857-1860 in Philadelphia, Pa. From 1854 to 1860 the firm was listed at 706 Arch Street (In 1857 at 164 Arch Street). Before entering into photography as a full time business, he succeeded in making copper electrotype plates from daguerreotypes. He obtained his first daguerreotype camera by trading an electrical battery to Dr. Isaac Norris for it, and then he got a better lens for the camera from a photographer known as the "Buckeye Blacksmith". Born in 1831 in Germantown, Pa., Frederick experimented early with the daguerreian process, and opened a gallery with his brother Lewis Gutekunst in 1856. Frederick Gutekunst is listed in "Photography in America" on several pages.



General Grant taken by F. Gutekunst
An early Photographer Trade card and a Portrait of an unknown lady by F. Gutekunst


An ealy Stereoview of Philadelphia by F. Gutekunst

The coat of arms which is shown on the back of many of his photographs is surenly not a registered coat of arms of the Gutekunst family, but rather a fashionalbe idea to please his fancy clients.

  In his Daybooks, Whitman recorded on 6 August 1889 that he "went over in a carriage to Gutekunst's, Philadelphia & had photo: sittings." This and the following two photos are the results. Horace Traubel records on the back of a Library of Congress copy of one of these photos that except for the photos taken by Eakins and his assistants in Whitman's room in 1891, these were the last photos taken of Whitman by a professional photographer, and certainly they were the last studio portraits. Whitman thought Gutekunst was "on top of the heap" as far as photographers went, and considered this photo "a first- rater--one of the best, anyhow." Whitman described the photo when he received twelve copies from Gutekunst as "big, seated, 3/4 length no hat--head of cane in right hand--good pict's." Whitman inscribed this photo: "My 71st year arrives: the fifteen past months nearly all illness or half illness--until a tolerable day (Aug: 6 1889) & convoy'd by Mr. B [Geoffrey Buckwalter, Camden teacher and Whitman's friend, who insisted on the photos] and Ed: W [Ed Wilkins, Whitman's nurse] I have been carriaged across to Philadelphia (how sunny & fresh & good look'd the river, the people, the vehicles, & Market & Arch streets!) & have sat for this photo: wh- satisfies me."
Walt Witman taken by F. Gutekunst in 1889
(pictures from this series are today sold from $ 4000 upwards)

Some of Whitman's friends did not like it as much as Whitman, but Whitman recalled that Dr. Bucke "counts that the best picture yet--says that is the picture which will go down to the future." John Burroughs also was taken with it: "Gracious! That's tremendous! He looks Titanic! It's the very best I have yet seen of him. It shows power, mass, penetration,-- everything. I like it too because it shows his head. He will persist in keeping his hat on and hiding the grand dome of his head. The portrait shows his body too. I don't like the way so many artists belittle their sitters' bodies." Whitman liked the rough natural quality of the portrait: "Nowadays photographers have a trick of what they call 'touching up' their work--smoothing out the irregularities, wrinkles, and what they consider defects in a person's face-- but, at my special request, that has not been interfered with in any way, and, on the whole, I consider it a good picture." Jeannette Gilder, writing in The Critic soon after the photo session, described the portrait this way: "From its framework of thin white hair and flowing beard, the face of the venerable bard peers out, not with the vigorous serenity of his prime, but a look rather of inquiry and expectation." Whitman went so far at one point as to say that "to a person who gets only one picture, this picture is in more ways than any other spiritually satisfactory and physically representative." (


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