Ludwig Angerer

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Born August 15, 1827(1827-08-15)
Malacky (Malaczka), Kingdom of Hungary, Austrian Empire
Died May 12, 1879(1879-05-12) (aged 51)
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Portrait of a Hunter (Self-portrait), c1865-70. Photo: Ludwig Angerer

Ludwig Mária Mauritius Angerer was a 19th-century pharmacist and photographer. He belonged to the most important Viennese photographers of his time, along with Emil Rabending, Josef Löwy, and his brother Victor Angerer. He was Franz Joseph I's court photographer, and introduced and popularised carte de visite photography in Vienna. For his work Angerer received medals in London (1862), Berlin (1865), and Paris (1867).

Early life[edit]

Born 1827 in Malacky, Pressburg county, Kingdom of Hungary (today Slovakia) to a Catholic family. His German father Ferdinand Ján Alojz Angerer worked as a civil servant, forester of graf Jozef Pálffy, probably in his castle in Malacky, his mother Amália Sethová was from Dotis (today Tata, Hungary).

Ludwig was the second oldest of five kids, and his two brothers Victor (3.10.1839–10.4.1894) and August (youngest) were to also work as photographers in Vienna. August became an art dealer and treasurer of Viennese Photographic Society, towards the end of his life he became mentally ill and died of "mental haze" [Geistestrübung]. Their sister later married Johann Bauer, the second president of Viennese Photographic Society (1867–68). The oldest brother Ferdinand (29.8.1825–?) did not get involved with photography as he became director of the Central Bank of Austria.[1]

Angerer studied pharmacy, chemistry and physics in Pressburg (today Bratislava) and Pest. In 1848–50, he worked as a pharmacist apprentice, after which, at the age of 23, he gained a license in pharmacy with the title of magister. Between 1850 and 1854, he was a pharmacist in Vienna and Graz. He spoke German, Hungarian, Latin, and Slovak.[2]

Amateur photographer during Crimean War[edit]

Russian military camp in Moldavia, 1854. Photo: Ludwig Angerer

On 13 March 1854, during Crimean War, Angerer joined the army, becoming a military pharmacist at the Military Medicine Department. He came to Bucharest with the Austrian occupation troops, working at their field hospital. Apart from his pharmacist duties, Angerer practiced photography, using his extensive equipment to take pictures of the civilian population and around Bucharest. He documented the inhabitants of the Danubian principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, creating an ethnographic portrait of their society. He also took some of the earliest photos of Bucharest, showing parts of the city before they were redeveloped during the late 19th century. Moldavia and Wallachia were both occupied by Russian troops already since July 1853 (following the disputes between Russians and Ottomans over sacred sites), and Angerer also took pictures of Turkish and Russian troops, making him among the world's first war photographers (Roger Fenton, William Russell, Carol Szathmari and others were part of the same war).[3]

Angerer returned to Vienna in 1856 or 1857 (Austrian troops retreated in March 1857) and on 13 April 1858 resigned from the Army in order to focus on photography.



Crown Prince Rudolf, 1870, CDV format.

Angerer is credited with the introduction of carte de visite (CDV) photographs into Vienna in 1857. These were small photographs of size of today's business cards which were very popular in the 1860s and 1870s. "Cartomania" was an international phenomenon, spanning Paris, London, and other places, and greatly contributed to popularisation of photography itself. The format was patented by Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri who in 1854 invented a machine to capture 8 portraits on one negative, which were then relatively easy and cheap to reproduce. Unlike more expensive and larger daguerrotypes, CDV photographs were exchanged among friends and collected in family albums. Many photographers were also selling portraits of known personalities, less commonly photographs of cities, sculptures or important events. In the 1880s cartes were mostly replaced with larger cabinet photographs.

Photography practice[edit]

Garden of the studio on Theresianumgasse, c1865. Photo: Ludwig Angerer
Photographic Society Committee, Vienna, 1877. Photo: Victor Angerer

Angerer founded his first photo studio in 1858, together with Hugo von Strassern on Feldgasse 264 (later renamed to Theresianumgasse 31 / Viktorgasse 2).[4] At the time 38 photographic studios were registered throughout the monarchy.[5] Two years later he moved to Feldgasse 1061 (later renamed to Theresianumgasse 6) to a new studio of his own.[6] In 1860 he began teaching photography his brother Victor shortly after he left the military service (this led Victor to open his own studio in 1862 in the 4th district on Unteren Alleegasse 14, later its second branch in Budapest together with Béla Gevay, and from 1865-73 another branch in the spa Ischl, the imperial summer residence).[7] In April 1861 the studio served as meeting place for an exhibition committee set up by the Photograpic Society founded that year in Vienna.[8] In 1862 he moved next door to Theresianumgasse 4 into the house which was his property, where he built himself a magnificent and highly acclaimed studio (largest in Vienna) with a large garden for outdoor shots.[9]

By 1864 he was a member of the executive com­mittee of the Photographic Society of Vienna, which brought him into contact with Anton Friedrich, then manager of Voigtländer's premises in Vienna. This led to Angerer acquiring and working with Voigtländer's recently introduced and massive 8-inch diameter Petzval-style portrait lens. It was Angerer's own lens which was displayed at the Berlin International Photographic Exposition in the following year. With this lens, he produced a series of very large format portraits, and his achievement was reported in the review of the exposition published in Photograpische Korrespondenz. Angerer exhibited there portraits, busts and three-quar­ter lengths. From the technical standpoint, these were highly success­ful and vigorous without retouching, but, unfortunately, they were not as much appreciated as the difficulty of their production made them deserve. The nucleus of his exhibit were the portraits, size 13 x 16 inches, taken with a smaller, 6-inch Voigtländer lens. This lens, introduced in 1860 in two different focal lengths, weighed in at a massive 31 lbs. The weight of the 8-inch version must have been considerable. So heavy was it that Angerer had to design a special tripod to carry the weight of the camera and its optic, with geared mechanisms to raise and lower the camera. Camera, lens and tripod reportedly weighed over two hundred pounds.[10]

In 1867 he opened another, larger studio in the 1st district on Johannesgasse, illuminated with blue glass skylights. Here he was joined by his brother Victor in 1872, thus named L & V.ANGERER. Victor had previously operated his own highly success­ful studio since the early 1860s. Their partnership, as L & V Angerer, lasted shortly as Ludwig's health deteriorated and the operation of the studio passed solely to Victor in mid-1875. Ludwig died of pneumonia in 1879 and one of his sons and his daughter would, for a time, work as photographers in the family studio. The studio operated until the outbreak of the Great War in 1914.[11]

He portrayed the Austrian and foreign celebrities and also made ​​city views of Vienna, genre- and animal studies. As an amateur, he made ​​important work on the topography of the monarchy. Ludwig Schrank stated that Ludwig took landscape photographs near Brno, but the photographs are not preserved.[12]


Court photographer[edit]

Imperial family at a terrace, 1860. Photo: Ludwig Angerer

On December 25, 1860, he became the photographer of the Imperial Court in Vienna (k.k. Hof-Photograph). To obtain that title was not different to the procedure of becoming court supplier. The applicant had to put his proposal to the Hofmeisteramt (Controller to the Imperial Household). Angerer presented a portfolio with photographs. The Imperial office made inquiries with the help of the police and the censor’s department (Hofzensurbehörde): Ludwig Angerer was born at Malaczka in Kingdom of Hungary, his character was unblemished, he had the reputation of being one of the best photographers, he had a good income and – at that time – was unmarried. Not every applicant was appointed, even if he had fulfilled all the requirements. It was necessary to gain the emperor’s "highest resolution" ("allerhöchste Entschließung") to appoint a purveyor to the Court, whose profession was not yet bestowed with the title. It was the Emperor's expressed wish that the number of appointments should be low, to retain their value. The title was bound to the person. The only photographer who had the title bestowed upon him by the Court without application was Josef Löwy. He was not appointed Court photographer because of the high artistic quality of his pictures, but for his merit earned in connection with the World Fair in Vienna in 1873. Between 1860 and 1900 the title "k.k. Hof-Photograph" was awarded to 73 photographers, among them three women.[13]

In 1860, Angerer was the only photographer ever allowed to take a picture of all the Imperial family, where Empress Elisabeth can be seen together with her husband and children.[14]

Angerer sold large quantities of cartes and larger prints of the Imperial family, so did Emil Rabending. Elisabeth and Franz Josef attended Ludwig Angerer’s studio several times (always separately), but Angerer was not their private photographer, like Josef Albert was to King Maximilian II. or Ludwig II. of Bavaria. Whereas Albert even accompanied the King to different places, neither Angerer nor any other photographer was engaged to accompany and document the Emperor’s or Empress’s journeys.[15]




Articles by Angerer
  • "Ueber den Vergrösserungs-Apparat", Zeitschrift für Fotografie und Stereoskopie 3, 1861. (German)
  • "Ueber eine Methode auf trockenem Kollod", ebd. 4, 1861. (German)
  • "Ein neues System für Atelier-Stative", Photographische Korrespondenz 3, 1866. (German)
  • "Bericht über den photographischen Teil der Weltausstellung in Paris 1867", ebd. 4, 1867. (German)
Book chapters, theses, and articles on Angerer