PhotoLexicon, Volume 3, nr. 4 (March 1986) (en)

Julius Schaarwächter

Liesbeth de Klerk


Julius Schaarwächter worked as a photographer, dealer in photographic equipment and photography teacher from 1852 to about 1887. He specialized in the production of daguerreotype, carte de visite and cabinet portraits; in addition, he practised landscape photography. Schaarwächter was the founder and only editor of the periodical De Navorscher op het gebied der Photographie, which appeared from 1865 to 1876.




Julius Scharwächter is born in Bannen, in Prussia, son of Johann Abraham Scharwächter and Sophia Maria Christina Elisabeth Brunett.


Julius Scharwächter settles in Amsterdam, as representative of the Frankfurt lithographer B. Dondorf. His choice of Amsterdam is perhaps dictated by the fact that several members of his family, on both his father’s and mother’s side, live in this city.


Scharwächter takes a Dutch wife, Susanna Gerhardina Roessingh van Iterson, on 29 October. He signs the marriage certificate as Schaarwächter; he will continue to use this somewhat ‘dutchified’ spelling of his last name for the rest of his life.


Schaarwächter’s only son, Julius Cornelius, is born on 16 July. He is trained as a photographer by his father. He settles in Germany in 1868, and in 1869 becomes an assistant to Prof. Dr. H.W. Vogel at the Gewerbe Akademie in Hamburg. After 1872 he has his own photo atelier in Berlin.

circa 1845-50

Schaarwächter forms a partnership with J.J.A. Satutzer, for handling paper, fancy goods and lithographic machines; the office is located on the Nieuwe Zijds Achterburgwal, in Amsterdam.


The collaboration with Stutzer is terminated. Schaarwächter continues the business alone and on his own account under the corporate name Stutzer & Co.


Schaarwächter moves to Nijmegen. In July he opens a studio there, in the Hezelstraat, for engraving nameplates, letter stamps and wax seals, and advertises for an apprentice engraver; a month later he expands the engraving business to offer ‘paleographic printing’, a copying method that uses heliogravure.


In February Schaarwächter opens a portrait studio for producing daguerreotypes in the Houtstraat; he also sells photo frames and medallions there, and quickly also branches out into photographic apparatus. The engraving business is moved from the Hezelstraat to the Houtstraat.


Schaarwächter opens a second photo atelier, in Tiel.


He wins a silver medal in an exhibition at the Vereniging voor Volksvlijt in Amsterdam.


Schaarwächter founds a periodical, entirely devoted to photography and photographic reproduction techniques, De Navorscher op het gebied der Photographie en Phototypie, Tijdschrift voor Photographie en aanverwante wetenschappen.


The Navorscher ceases to appear. Schaarwächter moves to Apeldoorn. There, in the Villa ‘Artis Amica Nostra’ on the Oranjepark, he sets up as a photographer, photography instructor, dealer in cameras, photographic paper, chemicals, photographs, coloured reproductions of famous paintings, and portraits of renowned figures. He will continue to practice that trade until at least 1887.


Julius Schaarwächter dies on 4 February, in Apeldoorn. His wife, Susanna Gerhardina Roessingh van Iterson, leaves for Amsterdam on 17 February.


Julius Schaarwächter emerges from his own writings and those of others as an energetic man who regularly developed new enterprises, was not possessed of exaggerated modesty, and did not shy away from fierce disputes with competitors.

He came to Amsterdam as the representative for a lithographic printing company. He sold lithographic machines, all sorts of paper goods, prints and playing cards, and produced engraved nameplates, engraved work on gold and silver, and printed visiting cards. Schaarwächter had apparently been trained in the graphic industry before he arrived in The Netherlands. How he came to master the techniques of photography is not known, but the step from the lithographic to the photographic sector was not that great, and was made by many others in those years too.

Photography would increasingly become the most important, and ultimately the only source of his income. In the first years he certainly needed income from the printing and engraving businesses to supplement his earnings as a photographer. After 1860, when, with the rise of the inexpensive carte de visite portrait and the accompanying rage for photo albums, it became fashionable for every self-respecting burgher to sit for his or her portrait, Schaarwächter could live off photography and the sale of photographic equipment. Where he and begun by declaring himself a ‘commissionair’ for official purposes, in the 1850s that became an ‘engraver and photographer’, and after 1860 just ‘photographer’. Schaarwächter had prepared for the transition to photography thoroughly; not only did he do portraits, but also provided the paraphernalia to go with them: a broad assortment of „…Cadres, Etuis, Medaillons etc. intended to contain portraits…”.

Julius Schaarwächter was the first photographer to settle permanently in Nijmegen with his own studio. Until his arrival, the citizens of Nijmegen had to content themselves with the work of travelling portraitists. In the summer of 1851 there were even two of them staying in the city at the same time. The daguerreotypes done by these photographers were not always of the best quality; reason therefore for Schaarwächter to praise the high level of his own portraits all the more avidly. Over the quarter century that he worked in Nijmegen there were at least twelve other photographers active there, some for only a couple of years, others for longer periods. Apparently any time Schaarwächter had the feeling that his position was being threatened by a serious competitor, he revealed a less congenial side. A case in point involved the Arnhem photographer E.M.A. van der Burght, who settled in Nijmegen in 1866. He announced his arrival in the city in a poem in the Nijmeegsche Courant, in which he urged the reader to have his portrait done as a gift for a sweetheart, child or other significant other. Schaarwächter responded with an unfriendly announcement in the same newspaper, in which he wrote that a „charlatan” was trying to flog his shoddy workmanship „with choppy, limping verses”. A sarcastic answer from Van der Burght followed, provoking another angry reaction from Schaarwächter; the two gentlemen, undoubtedly to the amusement of the reading public, filled the advertising columns for several weeks with their bickering and mutual taunts. This episode is chiefly interesting because it shows how highly Schaarwächter esteemed his own qualities. In one of the advertisements he paints himself as a sort of Nestor of Nijmegen photography: „Someone, who has been settled in one place for 15 years, who has acquired lasting repute, as is proven by the constant, unexpected call upon his services, to whom, in one exhibition by photographers, the first prize was awarded, whose tuition has been enjoyed by a large number of photographers, and whose counsel is still asked by them daily…”. For the rest, Schaarwächter could not have been doing badly, despite the competition. In 1857 he expanded his activities to Tiel, opening a photo studio there too.

Beginning in 1858 he regularly made his presence felt as an author, writing particularly on the technical aspects of photography. In various periodicals devoted to the applied arts he published articles on the dry collodion method, photographing on glass and oilcloth, enlargers and photographic reproduction techniques. In 1864 he published a 16 page pamphlet entitled Handleiding tot het vervaardigen der Chromo-photographiën, tot het kleuren der photographiën met olieverf en tot het kleuren der photographiën op albumine-papier, benevens voorschriften tot het prepareren der benodigde verwen. He surrounded this booklet with considerable mystery; he sold it for two guilders and fifty cents, in sealed wrappers, with the warning that opened copies would not be taken back. Buyers who expected that for this not inconsiderable sum they would be vouchsafed the latest technical advances did not get their money’s worth. The pamphlet was harshly criticized in the Tijdschrift voor Photographie, because, upon reading, it appeared that most of the information it offered was already known from an English booklet on colour in photography.

In 1865 Schaarwächter himself provided a contribution to the Tijdschrift voor Photographie. It was a report on the state of photography in Berlin, London and Paris, as he had found it during his recent trips to these cities. In Paris he had visited an atelier for photographic sculpture, in Berlin he had experimented with the new magnesium light, for which, though, he expected little, an had also seen a number of interesting applications of photography, such as photographs on enamel and porcelain. In the field of optics he had however found little that was new since previous years. Schaarwächter suggested that in the future he might regularly prepare a similar overview of new photographic developments for the magazine.

That never came to pass, because in the same year, 1865, Schaarwächter himself founded a magazine, De Navorscher op het gebied der Photographie en Phototypie, Tijdschrift voor Photographie en aanverwante wetenschappen. For twelve years – until it ceased to appear in 1877 – he personally performed the editorial duties for this periodical, and was also its principle author, with his own contributions and translations of articles from foreign magazines. It was his ambition to closely follow technical developments and subsequently make them accessible for Dutch readers in understandable language.

As a photographer Schaarwächter devoted himself primarily to the production of portraits. When he opened the doors of his Nijmegen studio in 1851, the daguerreotype was experiencing its greatest flowering in The Netherlands, and Schaarwächter’s first photographs were therefore made with this procedure. Examples of these have not been found. Of the many portraits that Schaarwächter must have done over the years, several dozen portraits of Nijmegen notables have been preserved in carte de visite format. Without exception these are of high quality: sharp, with rich contrasts, efficient lighting, and well thought-through composition.

Large salt prints (also known as talbotypes or calotypes) of portraits, coloured with pastels or opaque water colours, and amphitype portraits were also part of Schaarwächter’s repertoire. The examples which have been preserved are all framed; they were affordable alternatives for painted portraits. They have been coloured in an extremely careful manner, by someone with the skilled hand of a draughtsman.

There are also landscapes and views of Nijmegen and villages in the vicinity to be found in Schaarwächter’s oeuvre. He photographed the fortifications of Nijmegen several years before they were demolished at the orders of the City Fathers; he also did photographs in Hees, Groesbeek and Berg en Dal, among other places. He liked to enliven his village scenes with several human figures, not too prominent in the foreground, but as an embellishment of the middle distance. In addition to the usual villagers, posing somewhat awkwardly, he also had a regular ‘model’. This man – perhaps an assistant who accompanied him on his trips – appears on several photographs, clothed in a long jacket, provided with a pipe and cap, and standing in a graceful pose. In the years 1870 and 1871 Schaarwächter did a surprising photo series of the today no longer extant Huis Hulzen and its park. The albumin prints stand out for the great sharpness of their detail across the whole image plane and the fine nuancing of the light and dark tints, but especially for the unconventional, ‘modern’ looking compositions. Neither the beautiful house and its outbuildings, nor the members of the owner’s family who were included in the photographs to enliven the scenes, but rather the pattern of the paths which ran through the park and the lawns and trees which contrasted with them, were the real subject of the photographs. By keeping the horizon low in the image and having the rows of trees alternate with vistas, Schaarwächter gave these landscape photographs a sense of great depth. In a genre that was actually little practised in The Netherlands, landscape and nature photography, this series is a high point in the oeuvre Schaarwächter has bequeathed to us.

In all respects Julius Schaarwächter must be regarded as an indefatigable promoter of photography in The Netherlands. He was not only an outstanding photographer whose work was a significant impetus for early landscape photography, but he was moreover an enthusiastic author of technical, theoretical and educational articles on photography, and as founder and editor of a photographic periodical, the second in the Netherlands, he brought the profession to the attention of a wide audience.


Primary bibliography

Photographie, in De Volksvlijt 1858, p. 25-26.

Photographie op droog Collodion, in De Volksvlijt 1858, p. 356-360.

Over het bewaren van het met zilver geprepareerde papier, in Nieuw Tijdschrift gewijd aan alle takken van Volksvlijt 1859, p. 65-66.

Photographie op glas en wasdoek, in Nieuw Tijdschrift gewijd aan alle takken van Volksvlijt 1859, p. 172-192.

Jod- en brom-aluminium voor photographische doeleinden, in Nieuw Tijdschrift gewijd aan alle takken van Volksvlijt 1860, p. 175-176.

Over vergrootingstoestellen voor Photographie, in Nieuw Tijdschrift gewijd aan alle takken van Volksvlijt 1861, p. 161-164.

Over photographische toestellen, in Nieuw Tijdschrift gewijd aan alle takken van Volksvlijt 1861,p. 32-36.

Handleiding tot het vervaardigen der Chromo-photographiën, tot het kleuren der photographiën met olieverf en tot het kleuren der photographiën op albumine-papier, benevens voorschriften tot het prepareren der benoodigde verwen, 1864 (pamflet uitgegeven door J.S.).

Talrijke artikelen in De Navorscher op het gebied der photographie en phototypie, Nijmegen 1865-1876 (11 jrg).

Over de laatste uitvindingen op het gebied der photographie, in Tijdschrift voor Photographie 1865, p. 79-81.

Inleiding in F. Haugk, Repertorium der practische Photographie, Nijmegen 1874.

Diverse advertenties in dagbladen, waaronder: Amsterdamsche Courant april 1850 (aankondiging Stutzer & Co.); Provinciale Geldersche en Nijmeegsche Courant, 9 juli 1851 (vestigingsbericht) en regelmatig berichten tussen 1851 en 1877 (o.m 23 aug. 1851, 14 febr. 1852, 19 juni 1852, 23 okt. 1852, 12 aug. 1866); Apeldoornse Courant, regelmatig berichten tussen 1877 en 1887 (o.m. 4 mrt. 1877 (vestiging), 8 jan. 1881, 21 aug. 1886, 2 nov. 1886, 15 okt. 1887).

Secondary bibliography

Auteur onbekend, recensie van het pamflet Handleiding tot het vervaardigen der Chromo-Photographiën …, in Tijdschrift voor Photographie 1864, p. 284.

G.A. Evers, Hoe de fotografie in Nederland kwam, in Lux 25 (1914), p. 356-366, 420-425; in Lux 26 (1915), p. 20-28, 171-174, 247-256, 295-299, 331-339, 384-394.

H.A.M. Janssen, De eerste fotografen binnen Nijmegen belicht 1843-1877. Julius Schaarwächter en… een voorbeeld van ‘jalousie de métier’, in cat.tent. Afstemmen op Afstammen, Nijmegen (Gemeentearchief) 1980.

J. Geselschap, Julius Schaarwächter en zijn tijdschrift, in Foto augustus 1982, p. 38-39.


Corresp. lid der voornaamste Photogr. Vereenigingen (volgens eigen opgave in De Navorscher).

1868 Hamburg, jurylid Intern, tentoonstelling.

1869 Groningen, jurylid Intern, tentoonstelling.


1858 Amsterdam, Vereeniging voor Volksvlijt, intern, tent. (zilveren medaille).


1858 (g) Amsterdam, Vereeniging voor Volksvlijt, internationale tentoonstelling.

1983-’84 (g) Nijmegen, Museum Commanderie van Sint-Jan, Zien en gezien worden.


Amsterdam, Gemeentearchief.

Apeldoorn, Gemeentearchief.

Den Haag, Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie

Leiden, Prentenkabinet, bibliotheek en documentatiebestand.

Nijmegen, Gemeentearchief.


Amsterdam, Universiteits Bibliotheek.

Leiden, Universiteits Bibliotheek (Coll. Bodel-Nyenhuis).

Leiden, Prentenkabinet der Rijksuniversiteit.

Nijmegen, Gemeentearchief.