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Carl Ferdinand Stelzner
Portrait of Harro Harring (1798 - 1870)
Daguerreotype, 1/4 plate
Bassenge Photography Auctions
Courtesy of Bassenge, Berlin (Photography, Dec 2, 2009, Sale: 94, Lot: 4095)
Harro Harring (Harro Paul Harring), known mostly today only by historians and literary specialists, is one of the most remarkable and fascinating figures of the first half of the 19th century.
His very turbulent and unhappy life began on August 28, 1798 in a small village near Husum in Schleswig-Holstein. After an apprenticeship he studied at the art academy in Copenhagen and Dresden. At the academy in Dresden he met C.D. Friedrich who greatly impressed him. He became politically influenced by the radical wing of the German student leagues (Burschenschaften). During these turbulent years he was taken by the wave of philhellenism and in 1822 he took a ship from Marseille to Peloponnes to take part in the Greek fight for independence against the Turks. However, before his arrival the revolt was stopped and Harring returned disappointed. In Switzerland he met Lord Byron, also a philhellene. He recorded his experiences in literary form and had success with a theater piece in Munich. Heinrich Heine, who he also later shared a friendship with, supported and promoted his literary ambition. He was called to the court theater in Vienna but then denounced by the Metternich government as a "demagogue" and forced to leave the city. Through Prague he reached Theresienstadt where he unsuccessfully attempted to free the leader of the Greek Revolution Alexander Ypsilanti. In November 1831 all his writings were ultimately banned in the States of the German Federation. In exile in Strassbourg Harring was involved with the preparations for the German National Democratic festival at Hambach castle (Hambacher Fest) where he was later victoriously welcomed together with Ludwig Börne on May 27, 1832. In 1833 Harring took part in a student attack on soldiers and a police station in Frankfurt (Frankfurter Wachensturm). He fled to Geneva where he met the Italian freedom fighter Giuseppe Mazzini. Together with Mazzini he took part in the Savoyerzug, an unsuccessful revolution attempt in Italy. After numerous trips, escapes and time in prison, Harring left for Brazil in 1842 and met Giuseppe Garibaldi. Together they strove to promote the founding of the "Untied States of South America". In October 1843 news of the secret society "Young Italy" planning a revolt in Calabria against the Bourbons reached Rio. Harring received the order from Mazzini to recruit volunteers from North America and bring them from New York to Genoa. When Harring arrived in New York on Nov. 2, the revolt had already been suppressed. In New York He also met Margaret Fuller who supported him both financially and ideologically. Alexander H. Everett, the former US ambassador in Spain and Holland, also an essayist and writer, was also a friend of Harring's. He wrote a biographical sketch covering Harring's fascinating escapades which was published in the Democratic Review in 1846. In the spring of 1848 the news of the outbreak of revolution in Europe reached America and Harring saw a chance for the end of his long banishment and liberation from despotism. His arrival in Hamburg in July 1848 drew much attention. It is highly likely that the photographer C. F. Stelzner personally approached Harring in order to take his portrait - a common practice among daguerreotypists at that time. Harring's self-assured pose in the portrait offered here does not yet show the large disappointment his fellow countrymen would soon bestow upon him. They rejected and did not understand his radical views. In London exile the Republicans gathered in the European Democratic Central Committee, including Mazzini, Kossuth, Ledrun-Rollin and Harring. Marx and Engels, who were also in exile in London, wrote about Harring's failed strategies. Suffering from hallucinations and physically and psychologically at an end, Harring took his own life in May 1870 on the island of Jersey. He used a dagger he had always carried with him
Lit.: Bodo von Dewitz/Fritz Kempe. Daguerreotypien (from the series Dokumente der Photographie 2, Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg). Hamburg 1983, see ill. Pp. 76 and 78 for images with the same backdrop.
Hans-Ulrich Hamer. Die schleswig-holsteinische Erhebung im Leben von Harro Harring. Heide 1998.