Friedrich Justin Bertuch

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Friedrich Justin Bertuch, painting by Johann Friedrich August Tischbein , 1796, Gleimhaus Halberstadt

Friedrich Johann Justin Bertuch (born September 30, 1747 in Weimar ; † April 3, 1822 there ) was a German publisher and patron .


Bertuch came from a family that had lived in Thuringia in the (Bad) Tennstedt area since the 15th century and was closely connected to the scientific and intellectual environment and who u. a. the director of the Fürstenschule Schulpforta near Naumburg had belonged to Justin Bertuch .

He lost his mother when he was five. Initially destitute, he grew up in the house of his uncle, the Weimar Council of the Landscape Fund Gottfried Matthias Ludwig Schrön. When Bertuch was 15 years old, his father Justinus Bertuch, the garrison doctor in the service of Duke Ernst August Konstantin (1737–1758), died of hemorrhage . He attended the Wilhelm-Ernst-Gymnasium in Weimar and studied from 1765 to 1769 at the State University in Jena, first theology and then law . His main interests, however, were literature and natural history.

The acquaintance of Baron Ludwig Heinrich Bachof von Echt caused the 22-year-old to drop out of his studies in 1769 without an exam . In the same year Bertuch began teaching the sons Bachof von Echts as court teacher at the Dobitschen manor near Altenburg and held the position until 1773. For his part, he learned the Spanish language from his employer, who was ambassador to Spain, translated Don Quixote into German and Caspar Fritsch from Leipzig published this in the years 1775 to 1777. His translations of English and French literature also promised success.

Friedrich Justin Bertuch 1778
The former Wilhelm-Ernst-Gymnasium Weimar (2003 before renovation) on Herderplatz, where Friedrich Justin Bertuch was a student

Returning to Weimar in 1773 for health reasons, Bertuch maintained contacts as a freelance writer with court conductor Ernst Wilhelm Wolf and his wife, the daughter of concert master Franz Benda , as well as with the actors and actresses Friederike and Abel Seyler , the actor Konrad Ekhof and the high school professor and fairy tale collector Johann Karl August Museus . He earned his living as administrator of the ducal private finances until 1796.

Bertuch was able to work on the Teutscher Merkur from 1782 to 1786 . Its editor, Christoph Martin Wieland , educator of the sons of the Weimar Duchess Anna Amalia , gave him access to the Weimar court. Bertuch's translation of the French tragedy Ines de Castro, commissioned by the Duchess from Antoine Houdar de la Motte , received great attention.

In 1774 Bertuch, together with his friend, painter Georg Melchior Kraus , submitted the memorandum, draft of a free drawing school to be set up here with few resources . On this initiative, Duke Karl August founded the so-called Princely Free Drawing School Weimar in the rooms of the Red Palace in 1776 , which was set up according to Bertuch's ideas and later headed by Johann Heinrich Meyer and from 1788 by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe . Bertuch's goal was to offer all interested parties, regardless of social class, the opportunity to improve their craftsmanship and develop their talents.

Bertuch became the Duke's secret secretary in 1775 and remained in the civil service in various functions until 1787. In 1776 he was accepted into the Weimar Freemason Lodge Amalia to the three roses .

His business activity was diverse. In 1777 he took the large "Baumgarten", today's "Weimarhallenpark", on a leasehold and redesigned it; the swan lake in the public garden of his property became a popular ice rink. In 1782 he founded a factory for artificial flowers ; He had success all over Germany with the craft fashion item. In 1785 he founded the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung , which was later to appear as the Neue Jena'sche Allgemeine Literaturzeitung .

Bertuchhaus am Baumgarten, formerly residential and FJ Bertuch's office building, today the seat of the Weimar City Museum

From 1778 Bertuch was able to relocate his own works after converting a grinding mill into a paper and paint mill - another example of his foresight and his commercial talent. In 1780 he had his house built in the Baumgarten in Weimar, in which the factory for artificial flowers also found its place and which was occupied by Goethe's future wife Christiane Vulpius .

The Journal des Luxus und der Moden , published by Bertuch since 1786, not only praised artificial flowers, but also technical innovations, contained reading material for entertainment and instruction and is considered the first illustrated magazine in Europe. Bertuch received the princely privilege in 1791 for the plan of a state industrial comptoir, which should promote the state industry, train skilled workers and increase prosperity. At times he employed 400 to 500 people, which corresponded to about ten percent of the Weimar population. He succeeded in uniting printers, cartographers and artists under one roof. The pay was above average. In 1792 he was elected a member of the Leopoldina Scholars' Academy .

In 1793 Bertuch himself publicly defined this type of enterprise in a magazine as "an infallible means of revitalizing German industry and spreading food and prosperity among us". Here was enlightening ideas that the market economy has been applied in practice:

“I understand by Landes-Industrie-Institut a non-profit public or private institution that has its sole purpose, partly to seek out the natural riches of its province and to promote its culture, partly to enliven, direct and perfect the art industry of its inhabitants . All such undertakings are best and most charitable for the country through commercial societies or so-called stock corporations or, if their property is not so large, only through an active and skilled private man. "

Bertuch achieved national and European effectiveness beyond the required “local usefulness and local effectiveness”. In the course of time, the Comptoir included the paper and paint mill that had been set up earlier, the printing press, a cartographic department (since 1804 independent as the " Geographical Institute ") and much more. From 1796 Bertuch was also commercial director of the Chalkographische Gesellschaft zu Dessau .

Such production instruments for a “literary and artistic industry” behind, Bertuch described himself as “literary obstetricians”. He supported Göschen's first edition of Goethe financially and achieved considerable success with the Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung from 1785 in terms of the development of the number of subscribers and its annual income.

In collaboration with the Thuringian pastor and fruit growing expert Johann Volkmar Sickler , Bertuch created a fruit cabinet ( Pomological Cabinet ) between 1794 and 1820 as a highly scientific and lifelike model collection of pome , stone and nuts made of wax. The collection was not continued after Bertuch's death. The Thuringian Horticultural Association took over. The Museum of Nature in Gotha has 179 wax fruits from Bertuch & Sickler.

Between 1790 and 1830, Bertuch's twelve-volume picture book for children was published, an educational work that was “[spread] the knowledge of the era before the child” in monthly editions and illustrated with 1185 plates and 6000 engravings.

JF Bertuch children's book
JF Bertuch: Children's book Weltwunder
JF Bertuch: Children's book mythical creatures
JF Bertuch: Children's book fish

Translations and medical publications also made culture accessible and conveyed to a broad public in a broad and modern sense . With the juxtaposition of and the tension between the ideal and the real, the whole breadth and diversity of Weimar culture around 1800 became clear, ranging from Goethe's classic processing of the ancient Iphigenie fabric to the graphic and linguistic sketch of a "newly invented English patent washing machine" .

The war events of 1806 plunged Bertuch's company into a crisis. From then on it remained at the mercy of the political situation. From 1814 Bertuch also acted as a publisher of political newspapers and magazines, including Nemesis and Das Oppositionsblatt , as well as the new library of the most important travelogues to expand geography and ethnology .

Bertuch spent the last years of his life withdrawn. He died on April 3, 1822 and was buried at the southwestern end of his former tree garden in the Bertuch family grave lined with yew trees. The funeral oration on which Goethe had worked was given by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Saxony-Weimar, Friedrich von Müller . It said:

“A long life full of action and sea bliss is closed, a firm, strong will, which restlessly and happily pursued charitable purposes in all directions of human activity, from the earliest youth up to the latest age, has ceased to work for our circles. […] Deeply bowed children and grandchildren weep for the tenderly loving father of the family, for the warm, honest friend the allies of his mind and heart: the city complains to the indefatigable citizen, the fatherland complains, our noble royal house the loyal, most devoted servant! [...] Inaugurated our Masons' Association from earlier times, it grasped its purely human purposes with peculiar liveliness and pursued it tirelessly with every personal sacrifice. [...] We owe him the resurrection of our Lodge Amalia, and countless hours of pure spiritual enjoyment. We are deeply moved to pronounce it, here at the open grave, where all flattery falls silent: He was one of the most beautiful ornaments, one of the most loyal pillars of our union. "

The writer and journalist Karl Bertuch was his son.


  • Polyxena (1775)
  • Magazine of Spanish and Portuguese Literature (1780 ff.)
  1. Volume (1780) contains: folk romances; The Thinker of Clavijo; The dream of the Last Judgment of Quevedo; The Gatomachia by Lope de Vega ; Cervantes' miraculous puppet show ; Letters from the Knight of Spahrgut de Quevedo; Fragment from the history of Granada; Samples of camoene; Biographies, digitized
  2. Volume (1781) contains: Life of the Gran Tacasio of Quevedo; First chant of the Lusiade by Camoens , digitized
  3. Volume (1782) contains: The painful compulsion, play by Lope de Vega ; The devils from the coal chamber, farce in a file by Cervantes ; Ignez de Castro of Quita; Ignez de Castro by Ferreira; Bristo of Ferreira; Fragments from Portuguese History and Literature , digitized
  • Picture book for children containing a pleasant collection of animals, plants, flowers, fruits, minerals, costumes and all sorts of other educational objects from the realms of nature, the arts and sciences; all chosen from the best originals, engraved, and with a brief scientific explanation appropriate to the powers of a child, accompanied by FJ Bertuch. 12 volumes. Verlag des Industrie-Comptoirs, Weimar 1792–1830. ( online [Heidelberg University Library]).
  • Tables of general natural history according to its three kingdoms. 1806. and a copy from 1807 from the collection of the late postmaster Schustern in Nuremberg was offered in the auction taking place in Nuremberg from July 10, 1826 .
  • Portraits of the most famous geographers, navigators, travel writers and others well-deserved in geography and geography, with short biographical notes of them. Weimar 1808, Hathi
  • Wonder Cabinet. Collected fragments for the knowledge of extraordinary and still little known objects of our globe and its inhabitants. First and second volume. Pesth, Joseph Müller, 1818. Digitized


The nameplate on the vocational school in Weimar named in honor of Bertuch.

Today the building of the former Sophiengymnasium in Weimar houses the "State Vocational School for Economics / Administration and Nutrition" Friedrich Justin Bertuch "Weimar" in memory and honor of Bertuch.

The Weimar City Museum is housed in his home with a biographical exhibition.


  • Adolph Kohut : Friedrich Justus Bertuch. With 4 unprinted letters from Bertuch . In: North and South . A German monthly . 83rd volume. 1897, pp. 73-83. Digitized
  • Jutta Heinz: About the means to make natural history more charitable (1799). Bertuch's draft of a popular science research and publishing program. In: Gerhard R. Kaiser, Siegfried Seifert (ed.): Friedrich Justin Bertuch (1747–1822). Publisher, writer and entrepreneur in classic Weimar. Tübingen 2000, pp. 659-671. ( Online publication in the Goethezeitportal ; PDF, 132 kB ).
  • Katharina Middell: The Bertuchs must be lucky everywhere in this world. The publisher Friedrich Justin Bertuch and his Landes-Industrie-Comptoir around 1800. Leipziger Universitäts-Verlag, Leipzig 2002, ISBN 3-936522-17-0 .
  • Kurt Schreinert:  Bertuch, Friedrich Justin. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 2, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1955, ISBN 3-428-00183-4 , pp. 171-173 ( digitized version ).
  • Walter Steiner , Uta Kühn-Stillmark: Friedrich Justin Bertuch. A life in classic Weimar between culture and commerce. Böhlau, Cologne, Weimar, Vienna 2001, ISBN 3-412-11097-3 .

Web links

Commons : Friedrich Justin Bertuch  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Friedrich Justin Bertuch 1747–1822 , accessed on July 4, 2014.
  2. Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung. , 23 September 1807  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , accessed July 4, 2014.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  3. Bertuchs, FJ tables of general natural history. in: IL Schmidmer (1779–1831): Directory of the collection of books, oil paintings, copperplate engravings, water and enamel paintings, ... of the postmaster general Schustern, who died in Nuremberg, which ... Google Books, online , p. 15, Position 311.