Jakab Marastoni (Jacopo Antonio Marastoni)
The Young Joseph Joachim


Marastoni’s portrait as it appears in Andreas Moser’s 
Joseph Joachim. Ein Lebensbild.

This portrait of the 7-year-old Joseph Joachim was made at the time of his début in Pesth on March 17, 1839. Later in life, Joachim recalled how immensely proud he had been of his blue suit with the mother-of-pearl buttons. The artist was the Venetian-born painter and lithographer Jacopo Antonio Marastoni (*24 March 1804 — †11 July 1860), who, in Hungary, was known as Jakab Marastoni. It appears as an illustration (above) in the numerous editions of Andreas Moser’s Joseph Joachim. Ein Lebensbild.

The painting was sold at auction by Stair Galleries on September 13, 2008 in Hudson, NY — erroneously identified as “Joseph Joachim Guernier — The Young Violinist,” “Oil on panel, 8 3/4 x 6 3/4 in. Provenance: Property from the New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.” It’s whereabouts are currently unknown. Stair Gallery has not answered my repeated requests for more information about the sale.

The confusion in naming (and, perhaps, in sale) may have come from the fact that Joseph was holding his Guarneri violin, and that there is, indeed, an artist named Joseph Joachim Guernier. My fear is that the current owner may not appreciate the painting’s true identity or historical significance.

I do not, as yet, know how or when the painting came into the possession of the New York Public Library, or the conditions under which it was sold. The NYPL documents it being in storage as early as January, 1949, and there is a conservation report from 1965 quoting a price to conserve it. The last mention of the painting in the NYPL records occurs in an internal letter dated September 27, 1988.

The NYPL files document it as:

“Portrait of Joseph Joachim ,” or as “Joseph Joachim, the violinist as a boy”
Artist: Marastoni
Oil on canvas
8 5/8 x 6 3/4

The existence of this portrait reinforces the notion that Joachim’s family was not, as has sometimes been maintained, of “modest means,” but, even the year after the devastating Budapest flood of 1838 could afford to hire Pest’s leading portrait painter to memorialize their son’s début recital. It also gives some indication of the seriousness with which this recital was treated. Marastoni created paintings and lithograph portraits of many of Hungary’s leading aristocrats.

s-l1600-3 copy.jpg

Jacopo Antonio Marastoni (*1804 — †1860)
Note the same drape behind Marastoni as 
behind young Joachim

According to Wikipedia, Marastoni began his studies in Rome. “He settled in Pest in 1836, having come by way of Vienna and Pressburg. He soon became a much sought-after portrait painter. In 1846, he created the Első Magyar Festészeti Akadémiát (First Hungarian Academy of Painting) which, as the name suggests, was the first school in Hungary devoted exclusively to painting. It was a private school, but numbered András Fáy, Gábor Döbrentei and Archduke Stephen, Palatine of Hungary among its patrons and supporters. The school also sold shares to the general public. Károly Lotz, Mihály Zichy, Soma Orlai Petrich and Mihály Kovács were some of the school’s best-known students. Shortly after the founding of the school, Marastoni was named an honorary citizen of Pest. In later years, he became Hungary’s first professional Daguerrotypist. In 1859, his health began to deteriorate rapidly and he had to give up teaching. He soon went blind, and died in a mental institution. The school was closed shortly thereafter.” [See also this article in Hungarian]


Jakab Marastoni: Portrait of Ignáz Mayer


Jakab Marastoni: Portrait of Ferencz Szaniszló


Jakab Marastoni: Portrait of Karl Ludwig Leopold


Jakab Marastoni: Portrait of Baron Simon Révay

Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon:

Marastoni Jakab (Jacopo), Maler. * Venedig, 24. 3. 1804; † Pest, 2. 7. 1860. Vater des Folgenden; nach Kunststud. in Venedig arbeitete er in Görz, Triest, Klagenfurt und Wien. Ab 1834 lebte er in Preßburg, dann in Pest, wo er eine private Malschule gründete. Neben Barabás (s. d.) war er der produktivste Porträtmaler seiner Zeit in Ungarn. M. beschäftigte sich auch mit der Herstellung von Porträts mittels der Daguerreotypie. 1846 gründete er die Erste Ungarische Malerakademie. Im selben Jahr wurde er Ehrenbürger der Stadt Pest. 1859 erblindet, starb er im Irrenhaus.

W.: Altarbilder, röm.-kath. Pfarrkirche, Budapest-Tabán und evang. Kirche, Harka; Schlafende Dame; Taubenpost; Die gute Mutter; Ein Philosoph; zahlreiche Porträts.
L.: Ung. Nachr. vom 2. 4. 1864; Vasárnapi Ujság, 1860, S. 202; A. Schoen, Pest-budai művészeti almanach, 1919, S. 111 ff.; K. Péter, M. J., 1936; Művészeti Lex., 1967; Thieme–Becker; Das geistige Ungarn; M. Életr. Lex.; Pallas; Révai; Új M. Lex; Ungarns Männer der Zeit, 1862, S. 129; Wurzbach; Enc. It.; D. Kremmer, Az első pesti festőiskola (Die erste Malschule in Pest), 1916; K. Lyka, A táblabírόvilág művészete (Die Kunst der Tafelrichterzeit), 1922, s. Reg.; T. Szana, Száz év a magyar művészet történetéből (100 Jahre Geschichte der ung. Kunst), 1900, S. 50, 57, 78; A magyarországi művészet története (Geschichte der Kunst in Ungarn), red. von A. Zádor, Bd. 2, 1962, s. Reg.
(Z. Fallenbüchl)