Ludwig Mauthner

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Ludwig Mauthner
Ludwig Mauthner's grave in Vienna's central cemetery

Ludwig Mauthner (born April 13, 1840 in Prague , † October 20, 1894 in Vienna ) was an Austrian ophthalmologist and neuroanatomist.


Mauthner studied medicine at the University of Vienna and received his doctorate there in 1861. He then went on a study trip to London, Utrecht (to Franciscus Donders ), Paris and Berlin (to Alfred Graefe ), among others . After his habilitation in 1864, he was a private lecturer in ophthalmology at the University of Vienna and assistant to Eduard Jäger von Jaxtthal . Jäger supported him (he called him a genius ) and gave him a free hand in his research, so that he could deal a lot with neuroanatomy. His textbook on ophthalmoscopy was a great international success. In 1869 he became the first full professor of ophthalmology in Innsbruck , but gave up the professorship in 1877 to return to Vienna. He saw too little scope for action in Innsbruck and as early as 1873/74 submitted an application for removal from his professorship, which he repeated in 1876, although attempts were made to keep him in Innsbruck (additional assistant, Dean's office 1875/76). Isidor Schnabel was his successor in Innsbruck . He opened a practice in Vienna and established a reputation as an eye surgeon. He also taught as a private lecturer at the university (the Venia Legendi was granted to him again soon after his return), became head of the eye department at the General Polyclinic in Vienna and, in 1893, its deputy director. In 1894 he became a full professor of ophthalmology (appointed on October 8, 1894, as successor to Carl Stellwag von Carion ) and headed the first eye clinic at the University of Vienna. He died of a heart attack on the night of October 19-20, 1894, before he could take over his chair. Ludwig Mauthner found his final resting place in the old Israelite part of the Vienna Central Cemetery .


Mauthner was the brother of the poet Josef Mauthner (1831–1890), the manufacturer and politician Max von Mauthner (1838–1904), owner of the Wienersdorfer Malzfabrik Mauthner, and the lawyer Philipp von Mauthner (1835–1887). The father was a wealthy Jewish manufacturer in Prague. In his first marriage Mauthner was married to Gabriele Jelinek (1835-1887), in his second marriage to Rebecca Brodskyj, widowed Meisels (1845-1914). She was the sister of the Ukrainian businessman Lasar Brodskyj (1848–1904) and was one of the richest women in the Russian Empire .


He was considered an excellent teacher whose courses on, for example, anomalies in refraction and accommodation and disorders of eye mobility also attracted foreigners, and he has produced several monographs and textbooks on ophthalmology, such as ophthalmoscopy , refraction theory and eye paralysis. Right at the beginning of his career, he made a name for himself by examining the fundus with an ophthalmoscope (ophthalmoscopy) in both healthy and diseased eyes (using a textbook that became a standard work) and investigating refraction anomalies. He introduced new methods in eye surgery, for example opening the sclera (sclerotomy) in glaucoma surgery. He also published on diseases affecting the eye and the brain and dealt with sympathetic eye diseases .

He also made a name for himself as a neuroanatomist. In 1859 he discovered two large cells in the nervous system of fish (which are also present in amphibians), which are connected to large axons along the spine (one on each side) and are responsible for the startle reflex. In his 1863 treatise on neurohistology, he distinguished nerve cells according to their morphology after staining them with carmine . The paper had a far-reaching impact, but the main results later turned out to be artifacts .

He was the first to describe choroideremia , a hereditary disease that leads to progressive degeneration of the retina in men.

A previously used test for color blindness was named after him and the Mauthner sheath (the axolemm ).


Bust of Ludwig Mauthner in the arcade courtyard of the University of Vienna
  • In the arcade courtyard of the University of Vienna - the university's hall of fame - there has been a bust of Mauthner created by Rudolf Weyr since 1899 . Isidor Schnabel gave the memorial speech. As part of “purges” by the National Socialists in early November 1938, ten sculptures by Jewish or supposedly Jewish professors in the arcade courtyard were overturned or smeared with paint in connection with the “ Langemarck Celebration ”. At this point in time, the acting rector Fritz Knoll had the Arkadenhof sculptures checked; on his instructions, fifteen monuments were removed and placed in a depot, including that of Ludwig Mauthner. After the end of the war, all damaged and removed monuments were put back in the arcade courtyard in 1947.


  • Textbook of Ophthalmoscopy , Vienna: Tendler 1868. Archive
  • Recherches sur la Structure du Système Nerveux , Paris 1868.
  • The sympathetic eye diseases , Wiesbaden: JF Bergmann 1879. Archives
    • English translation: The sympathetic diseases of the eye , New York: W. Wood 1881, Archives
  • The determination of the refraction anomalies with the help of the ophthalmoscope , Vienna 1867.
  • Lectures on ophthalmometry , in: Wiener med. Press, 1869.
  • Lectures on the optical defects of the eye , Vienna 1872 to 1876.
  • The syphilitic diseases of the eye , in: Hermann von Zeissl , Textbook of Syphilis, Volume 2, 2nd edition. 1872.
  • Lectures from the total area of ​​ophthalmology , 2 volumes, Wiesbaden: JF Bergmann, Volume 1: Die sympathischen Augenleiden, The functional examination of the eye, brain and eye, 1881, Archives , Volume 2: The teaching of glaucoma, The teaching of eye muscle paralysis, 1882 , Archives , separate prints from it:
    • Brain and Eye , Wiesbaden, JF Bergmann 1881, Archives
    • Secondary glaucoma and glaucoma theories , JF Bergmann 1882, Archives
    • Color theory , Der Functionprüfung first part , JF Bergmann 2nd ed. 1894, Archives
    • The doctrine of glaucoma , Wiesbaden: JF Bergmann 1882, archive
    • Nuclear paralysis of the eye muscles , JF Bergmann 1885.
    • The non-nuclear eye muscle paralysis , JF Bergmann 1886.
  • Diagnosis and therapy of eye muscle paralysis , Wiesbaden: JF Bergmann 1889, 2nd edition 1893.


  • J. Lauber:  Mauthner, Ludwig. In: Austrian Biographical Lexicon 1815–1950 (ÖBL). Volume 6, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna 1975, ISBN 3-7001-0128-7 , p. 162.
  • E. Seyfarth, SJ Zottoli: Ludwig Mauthner (1840-1894): Neuroanatomist and Noted Ophthalmologist in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna , in: Brain, Behavior and Evolution , Volume 37, 1991, pp 252-259, abstract
  • Julius Hirschberg : History of Ophthalmology, several volumes, from 1899.
  • Franz Daxecker : The fate of Prof. Ludwig Mauthner (1840–1894), in: Klin Mbl Augenheilk 225, pp. 17–226 (2008)

Web links

Commons : Ludwig Mauthner (ophthalmologist)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Article Ludwig Mauthner by J. Lauber, Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon
  2. He had only 12 beds for patients (despite a large crowd), initially only one assistant and only three to four listeners in the lecture instead of the hundred as before in Vienna
  3. Heinz Huber, History of the Medical Faculty Innsbruck and the Medical-Surgical College (1673–1938), Böhlau, 2010, p. 280
  4. Heinz Huber, loc. cit.
  5. ^ Roman Sandgruber: "Dream time for millionaires - The 929 richest Viennese in 1910", Styria Publishing Group, Vienna / Graz / Klagenfurt 2013, p. 398, ISBN 978-3-222-13405-0
  6. E. Seyfarth, SJ Zottoli: Ludwig Mauthner (1840-1894): Neuroanatomist and Noted ophthalmologist in fin-de-siècle Vienna , in: Brain, Behavior and Evolution , Volume 37, 1991, pp 252-259.
  7. ^ History of the University of Vienna, photo of his bust
  8. ^ Mitchell G. Ash, Josef Ehmer: University - Politics - Society . Vienna University Press, June 17, 2015, ISBN 978-3-8470-0413-4 , p. 118.