Jochen Voigt
Bertha Wehnert-Beckmann
Leben & Werk einer Fotografiepionierin

Chemnitz 2014
400 Pages - Hardcover - 345 Pictures
In german language
ISBN 978-3-9813691-2-0
49,90 Euro + porto


The daguerreotype restorer and photo historian, Jochen Voigt from Chemnitz (Saxony, Germany), has written a book about the first woman photographer in Europe. Bertha Beckmann (1815-1901), the name of the young woman, started to work in the studio of photography pioneer Wilhelm Horn in Prague in 1842. It is assumed that she had previously taught herself photography. In the same year, she appears in Dresden as daguerreotypist. In 1845, she married the well-known daguerreotypists, Eduard Wehnert (1811-1847), in Leipzig; who unfortunately died soon thereafter. She worked as a still respected and revered "Grand Dame" of photography for 40 years until 1882.
The spectacular life work of the first professional woman photographer in Europe has come to a clear shape in this carefully researched book, which is equipped with hundreds of excellent pictures. The author has managed to present not only the photographic achievements of Bertha Wehnert-Beckmann in the best way, but at the same time, illuminate the circumstances under which it was created. Therefore it happens that the book is described as "an exciting cultural history of photography in the 19th Century". (Ulrich Pohlmann, Munich)
Bertha Wehnert-Beckmann is the first woman photographer worldwide for whom their photographic work has been preserved. The many wonderful daguerreotypes in the book are evidence of a great artist. Her portraits are one of the most beautiful things to have emerged in the early days of photography in Germany.
Despite her important role in European history of photography, only recently has the first book on her work appeared. Most of the daguerreotypes and calotypes shown are unknown and come from renowned museums, as well as, from private collections.

It is due to the author for uncovering the significant role Wehnert-Beckmann has played not only in Germany, but in American photographic history as well. Voigt follows the Leipzig photographer like a detective across the Atlantic to New York; and reconstructed her sensational appearance on Broadway, the global "epicenter of the daguerreotype". In 1850, 'Madame Bertha' welcomed the President of the United States, his political allies, artists from New York, and representatives from the American photography scene in her little studio.
In the memories of New York daguerreotypists, Bertha Wehnert-Beckmann, she’s known as the "German Lady of Broadway.” In regards to the history of photography, the excellent visual quality represented by her work occupies an outstanding position internationally. (Ulrich Pohlmann, Munich) Since the early days of photography, the incredible abundance and quality, which emerged virtually out of the darkness oeuvre, is likely to be reckoned in the photographic discoveries of 2014.

1. Portrait of philosopher and physician Gustav Theodor Fechner with friend Maximilian Rüffer, Daguerreotype by Eduard Wehnert, whole Plate, ca. 1845.

2. Portrait of Moritz Klengel (Violinist in Leipzig), Daguerreotype by Bertha Wehnert-Beckmann, quarter plate, ca. 1846-49, Library of University Leipzig

3. Detail of the same plate

4. Merchant Cammerer and his wife, Daguerreotype by Bertha Wehnert-Beckmann, quarter plate, ca. 1851-60, Privatbesitz.

5. Portrait of a girl, likely Louise Hauffe, the famous pianist, Daguerreotype by Bertha Wehnert-Beckmann, quarter plate, ca. 1851, Deutsches Museum München

6. Portrait of young woman, Daguerreotype by Bertha Wehnert-Beckmann, whole plate, ca. 1848/49, Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

7. Portrait of reading woman, Daguerreotype by Bertha Wehnert-Beckmann, quarter plate, ca. 1851-60, Privatbesitz.

8. Reproduction of a drawing, Daguerreotype by Bertha Wehnert-Beckmann, ca. 1846-49, Sammlung Fotografie des Münchner Stadtmuseums.