Old Silhouette Portraits

Please contact me if you own or have information about one or more ancient silhouette portraits from Denmark, Norway or Germany. In many cases I can assist in identifying silhouettes, e.g. who made them, when and where were they made and who are the portrayed persons. If you already have some information about a silhouette, chances are that we can jointly find the rest.

I take an interest in Franz Liborius Schmitz who was the most productive of all silhouettists working in Denmark and Norway. Please see below some silhouettes that I would particularly like to know more about.

Postmaster in Oldesloe Peter Schythe and family
Silhouette of postmaster in Oldesloe Peter Schythe and family

Franz Liborius Schmitz: Silhouette of postmaster in Oldesloe Peter Schythe and family, 1817.


This family portrait is one of extremely few from Franz Liborius Schmitz' hand that are known in the present Schleswig-Holstein. Schmitz worked in Schleswig-Holstein during at least four periods between 1799 and 1822, all together more than a year. Yet, only some 15 silhouettes are known today and few of the portrayed persons are identified.

This silhouette distinguishes itself by being fully identified thanks to the genealogy book "Aufzeichnungen aus der Vergangenheit des Geschlechts Schythe" ("Notes of the Past of the Family Schythe"), Albert Schüthe, Wilhelmsburg by Hamburg, 1923. In the book it is also mentioned that the silhouette in 1923 was still in the family's house in Oldesloe (now Bad Oldesloe).

In spite of research by my friend Halvor Jochimsen in Kiel with assistance from Heimatmuseum Bad Oldesloe it has not yet been possible to find this silhouette. As Schmitz' silhouettes from Schleswig-Holstein are so rare and as this one is a prominent example, I would be happy to establish communication with the owner or other persons with knowledge of the faith of the silhouette.

As mentioned, the main character on the silhouette is postmaster Peter Schythe (1769-1838). He was born in Copenhagen as son of valet Jørgen Eilersen Schythe and Elisabeth née Mørck. He was quartermaster in the Danish army and appr. 1808 he was appointed postmaster in Oldesloe where the family settled and purchased a house. He was married twice, 1) to Anne Marie Franzen (1783-1812) and 2) to Dorothea Friederike Pöhls (1789-1876). There were five children in first and seven in the second marriage.

The persons on the silhouette are from left to right:

  • Sophie Juliane Schythe, born 8 Aug 1805 in Copenhagen, dead 21 Sep 1888 in Oldesloe. She was married Hanssen.
  • Marie Susanne Schythe, born 20 Nov 1808 in Oldesloe. She was married 1) Hormann, 2) Schmidt von Leda.
  • Dorothea Friederike Pöhls, born 8 Apr 1789 in Oldesloe, dead 25 Jun 1876 in Oldesloe. She was married to Peter Schythe as his second wife.
  • Dorothea Henriette Schythe, born 12 Feb 1817 in Oldesloe. She was married to the organist Marxen in Rendsburg.
  • Julius Johann Christian Schythe, born 28 Nov 1814 in Oldesloe, dead 24 Feb 1891 in Oldesloe. Printer and newspaper publisher in Oldesloe.
  • Peter Schythe, born 1769 in Copenhagen, dead 24 Oct 1838 in Oldesloe. Postmaster in Oldesloe.
  • Anne Elisabeth Schythe, born 17 Nov 1800 in Copenhagen.
  • Thomas Christian Schythe, born 6 Nov 1803 in Copenhagen, dead 4 Jan 1869 in Flensburg.

Please note a small detail on the house to the extreme right, an oval post office sign with king Frederik VI's monogram. It was one of Schmitz' characteristics to leave small hints of the house father's occupation in a silhouette.

All information about this silhouette will be appreciated.