Balthasar Speth

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Balthasar Speth (also Späth ), actually Balthasar Maximilian Speeth (* December 22, 1774 in Mannheim , † May 31, 1846 in Munich ), was a German Roman Catholic clergyman, art writer , art collector , miniature painter and lithographer .


Speeth, who wrote himself Speth , was one of five children of the Electoral Palatinate court trumpeter Nikolaus Speeth (1740–1784), who came to Munich in 1778 with Elector Karl Theodor . His older brother was the builder, draftsman and engraver Peter Speeth . Other brothers were the Franconian wine merchant and merchant Johann Nepomuk Speeth (1780–1834), his daughter Mathilde (* November 8, 1821; † August 13, 1915) with the Würzburg hotelier Karl Panizza (1808–1855), the father of the writer Oskar Panizza was married, and the royal Württemberg lieutenant colonel Valentin von Speeth (1778–1845), father-in-law Eduard Mörikes . He also had a sister.

In Munich, Balthasar Speth received lessons in German at the male women's parish school as well as private Latin lessons and took his first drawing lessons at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts . After the death of the father, the mother Wilhelmine Speeth, née Areans, moved with the children to relatives in Heidelberg in 1787 ; Peter Speeth had been with his uncle for training since the death of his father. After attending the Lyceum and graduating in philosophy, Balthasar decided to study theology at Heidelberg University after a three-year stay at the clerical seminary .

Professional background

On June 2, 1798 took place in Mainz the priesthood . In Heidelberg he took on a position as a court master as an informator in his native Mannheim, since there were no pastoral positions available in the diocese of Worms . At the Heidelberg University Theological Faculty he acquired at Anton Dereser the licentiate in theology. On the advice of friends he went back to Munich in 1802 in the hope of a church job. Due to the secularization in Bavaria and the resulting surplus of pastors, he again accepted a position as court master in a noble house in Munich. Even a 14th place among 192 competitors in the participation in the parish bankruptcy examination ordered by the royal Bavarian government in 1807 did not change his situation, as he lacked the 10-year pastoral care required in Bavaria. In order to still be active in the church sector, he taught from 1808 as a catechist at the male holiday school in the citizens' hall .

On January 30, 1811, he was promoted to royal court priest at the Residenz court chapel and on October 28 of the same year he was appointed professor of religion and ethics of the Bavarian Cadet Corps. During this activity he also helped out at the confessional , especially in the Frauenkirche in Munich . In addition, he found time to devote himself to his passion, the study of the fine arts, and in this context went on a study trip to Italy in 1816.

In 1818 he was commissioned by King Maximilian I to the court chaplain appointed. In 1822 he received the benefit of the Kaiser Ludwig Mass in the royal court chapel. In the same year, Duke Wilhelm, in his capacity as Grand Master of the Bavarian House Knight Order of St. Michael , gave him the position of first chaplain and officer with diploma and medal insignia for the order mentioned. On October 28, 1822, Maximillian I promoted Speth to the tenth canonical at the Munich cathedral chapter and Speth was appointed clergyman . In 1829 Archbishop Lothar Anselm von Gebsattel appointed him cathedral scholastic and on May 19, Speth was given the papal title of apostolic protonotary . In the last year of his life he was involved in the Ludwig Mission Association .

Speth died on the evening of the last day of May, a Whitsun Sunday, after a long illness at the age of 71. He was portrayed by Ludwig Emil Grimm in 1817 and by Leo Schöninger in 1845 .

Creating art

The art enthusiast Speth was a painting student of Johann Georg von Dillis and of his later friend Johann Jakob Dorner the Younger .

He wrote several works on art history. From 1810 he edited the Kritischen Anzeiger für Litteratur und Kunst , in which he had published since 1809. He documented the art treasures he visited on his trip to Italy in 1816, on which he invited Dillis, in a three-volume work, in which Dillis also played a key role. This does not include the knowledge Speth gained during a later stay in Lombardy and Venice . Here, too, his friend Dillis accompanied him; the king provided him with a carriage free of charge. In 1842 Speth received honorary membership of the Munich Art Academy for the work.

He published further reports and articles, for example, in the Munich Society Gazette (1912-1813), in the Anzeiger für Kunst- und Gewerbfleiß im Königreich Baiern (later Weekly Anzeiger für Kunst- und Gewerb-Industrifleiß im Königreich Bayern ) and in the Stuttgarter Kunst-Blatt (1825–1829), a supplement to the morning paper for educated classes . He advised Dillis on the preparation of his works Directory of paintings in the Royal Gallery in Schleissheim (1831) and catalog of the paintings in the Royal Pinakothek .

Over the years he has acquired an extensive collection of art books and art objects. His gallery was frequently visited by connoisseurs and art lovers during his lifetime. Some of his collected copperplate engravings were published posthumously in a catalog.

A miniature portrait of King Maximilian I in uniform, made by Speth in 1812, is in the Victoria and Albert Museum , other miniatures commissioned in private collections.

Publications (selection)

  • More serious appreciation of the art exhibition in Munich in October 1817. Stöger-Verlag, Munich 1817. ( limited preview in Google book search)
  • About a remark ⁊c. of Mr. Sendtner and a few words from him to me. Munich 1818. ( limited preview in Google book search)
  • The art in Italy. 3-volume work, Thienemann Verlag, Munich 1819, 1821 and 1823.
  • Memories of Johann Georg von Dillis, royal. bayer. Central Painting Gallery Director. Printed by Franz Seraph Hübschmann, Munich 1844 ( ).



Individual evidence

  1. Jürgen Müller : Oskar Panizza - attempt at an immanent interpretation. Medical dissertation Würzburg (1990) 1991, p. 1.
  2. Karl Mossemann: The electoral court trumpeter Nicholas Speeth and his descendants. Schwetzingen 1971, pp. 13, 15, 43 and 45 f.