Maximilian Ferdinand Weidenbach, 18231890 (aged 67 years)

Maximilian Ferdinand /Weidenbach/
Given names
Maximilian Ferdinand
Birth 1823
Note: Naumburg
Birth of a brotherAnton Joseph Weidenbach
1825 (aged 2 years)

Birth of a brotherJulius Clemens Weidenbach
1829 (aged 6 years)
Note: Naumburg
British King
George IV
from January 29, 1820 to June 26, 1830 (aged 7 years)

British King
William IV
from June 26, 1830 to June 20, 1837 (aged 14 years)

Birth of a sisterPauline Ocena Weidenbach
1848 (aged 25 years)
Death of a brotherJulius Clemens Weidenbach
1849 (aged 26 years)

Marriage of a siblingGustav Adolph WeidenbachMaria Helena Johanna RathmannView this family
February 27, 1854 (aged 31 years)
Death of a brotherFrederick Moritz Weidenbach
1858 (aged 35 years)

British Queen
from June 20, 1837 to January 22, 1901 (aged 78 years)

Death of a fatherA. Weidenbach

Death 1890 (aged 67 years)

Family with parents
elder brother
Birth: 1815Naumburg, Saale, Prussia, Germany
Death: 1858
3 years
elder brother
Birth: 1817
3 years
elder brother
3 years
elder brother
Birth: 1821Naumburg, Saale, Prussia, Germany
3 years
Maximillian Weidenbach in Egypt
Birth: 1823Naumburg, Saale, Prussia, Germany
Death: 1890
3 years
younger brother
5 years
younger brother
Birth: 1829Naumburg, Saale, Prussia, Germany
Death: 1849
20 years
younger sister
Birth: 1848Naumburg, Saale, Prussia, Germany
Death: 1920



2 FAMC F58 BIOGRAPHY: From 1839 to 1842 Maximilian Ferdinand lived inBerlin,studying Egyptology with his brother Ernst. KarlRichard Lepsius(1810-84), also from Naumburg, taught themold Egyptian hieroglyphics.Lepsius chose bothMaximilianFerdinandand Ernst to join 'the GreatPrussian Expedition'to Egypt, which set out in 1842 'and remained inEgypt forthree years - all expenses being paid by King FriedrichWilhelmIV of Prussia'. Lespius was leader of this 'completeandwellequippedexpeditio n'. Maximilian Ferdinand andErnst were its official artists:'it was their task to copythe hieroglyphical inscriptions and sketch thegeneralterrain of the regions'. BIOGRAPHY: Maximilian Ferdinandwas subsequently appointedto theRoyalMuseum at Ber lin,where he spent 3 years 'painting hieroglyphic murals intheEgyptian Rooms'. BIOGRAPHY: Their work was featured in the12-volume work, Denkmèaler Australiat.Aegypten undAethiopien (Records from Egypt andEthiopia),publishedbetween1849 and1859. (Note: t he King of Prussiasubsequently donated acopy of this extraordinary work tothe State Library of Victoria; it ishoused in the RareBooks Collection, *SEF 493.1 L55.) BIOGRAPHY: In September1849Maximilian Ferdinand (the fifthbrother toarrive),arrive d, on the "Australia" BIOGRAPHY: Maximilian Ferdinandbecame the acting Prussian Consul inSouth Australia He was'toppled' from this position in 1855, when 'QueenVictorianegotiated theappointment of Francis Dutton asPrussianConsul. BIOGRAPHY: Whe n Maximilian Ferdinand arrived inSouth Australia, 'he wasimmediately appointed the firstPrussian consul in South Australia,retaining this positionuntil 1855'. Believing that minersin SouthAustralia werebeing exploited, heencouraged them tohea d fortheVictorian goldfields. Maximilian Ferdinand himselfheaded for Ballarat in1852, with his brother, Moritz, thenreturned to Glen Osmond withsufficient funds to build ahouse andtake up viticulture: 'he continuedto allyhimselfwith membersof t he German community who were incitingtheminers to strike in order to improve conditions and pay,and heencouraged the formation of "friendly societies" andotherworking-classself-help groups, hoping, in particular,toprovide free secular educatio n forworking-classchildren.' A government school at Glen Osmondwasestablished in 1859. BIOGRAPHY: After Moritz's death,Maximilian Ferdinand supported hisfamilyand managed theestate. In 1868 he helped foundthe'SèudAustraliaralischer Allgemeiner Deuts cher Verein, aGerman society open to allclasses of migrants', and in 1872set himself up as an agent for theSouth Australiangovernment's assisted immigrationscheme. In February1882,he left Adelaide, on theGerman warship, Carola, to returntoBerli n 'for a reunion of the Lepsius expedition members',then returnedagain to Adelaide in February 1883, on theSiam. BIOGRAPHY: The article mentions that allknown copiesof his sketches'were destroyed duringthe First World War'.BIOGRAPHY: ILLERT, Chr is. Commemorative Biography ofMaximilian FerdinandWeidenbach. [Berri, S. Australia:Science-Art Research Centre, 1981.] SHIP: The "Australia"in September1849.


Weidenbach ILLERT, Chris. Commemorative Biography of Maximilian Ferdinand Weidenbach. [Berri, S. Aust.: Science-Art Research Centre, 1981.] SF 920.71 W42I

Maximilian Ferdinand Weidenbach was born in 1823, in Naumburg/Saale, Prussia. His father, A. Weidenbach, was a drawing master who, in the late 1830, ‘attained great professional eminence’ through the publication of his book, Ansichten aus dem saal- und Unstrut-Thale, nach der Natur gemalt (Views of the Saale and Unstrut valleys, drawn from nature).

There were at least 7 children in the family: (1) Friedrich Moritz (1815-58), Curator of the Gardens at Planitz, near Dreden, who married Diosma Augusta Staubke, and had 6 (?) children; (2) August Friedrich (born 1817), who married Juliana Wilhelmina Berling; (3) Ernst (born 1819?); (4) Gustav Adolph (born 1821); (5) Maximilian Ferdinand; (6) Anton Joseph (born 1825?); and (7) Julius Clemens (1829-48).

In his foreword to the book, Chris Illert writes that, perhaps ‘all seven of the Weidenbachs were not brothers’, although ‘Maximilian, Moritz, Ernst and Julius were certainly brothers’. He states that he has made the ‘simplifying’ assumption that all 7 are brothers, and that he considers it ‘essential from the point of view of reader comprehension to assume that they were’.

From 1839 to 1842 Maximilian Ferdinand lived in Berlin, studying Egyptology with his brother Ernst. Karl Richard Lepsius (1810-84), also from Naumburg, taught them old Egyptian hieroglyphics. Lepsius chose both Maximilian Ferdinand and Ernst to join ‘the Great Prussian Expedition’ to Egypt, which set out in 1842 ‘and remained in Egypt for three years – all expenses being paid by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia’. Lespius was leader of this ‘complete and well equipped expedition’. Maximilian Ferdinand and Ernst were its official artists: ‘it was their task to copy the hieroglyphical inscriptions and sketch the general terrain of the regions’.

Their work was featured in the 12-volume work, Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien (Records from Egypt and Ethiopia), published between 1849 and1859. (Note: the King of Prussia subsequently donated a copy of this extraordinary work to the State Library of Victoria; it is housed in the Rare Books Collection, *SEF 493.1 L55.)

The first of the Weidenbach brothers to come to Australia was August Friedrich. He arrived in South Australia in September 1846, on the Pauline. Initially he worked at ‘the ill-reputed Glen Osmond mines’, owned by Sir Osmond Gilles and managed by Herman Conrad Stakemann (the Consul from Bremen). Edward Henkel, who had ‘held a responsible situation at the Hanoverian Government mines in the Hartz Mountains’, was foreman.

Because the Glen Osmond mines were unsafe, labourers tended to stay there no longer than they needed to” ‘generally the only men who worked there were those who, unable to pay the fare for their passage to South Australia, had signed an agreement to work off their debt.’ Chris Illert writes that August Friedrich developed a strong dislike for Sir Osmond Gilles. In January 1847, in an Adelaide tavern, ‘two or three assailants’ served Gilles a ‘jocose roasting’. Gilles was later ‘charged for being drunk and disorderly’ and had to appear in court on the following day. There he vowed that he ‘would not forget the insult’. It is not clear from the text whether August Friedrich had been involved in the tavern incident; ‘shortly after, August Friedrich took up farming in the Hope Valley district.

His younger brother, Julius Clemens, arrived in South Australia in December 1847, on the Herman von Beckerath. It seems that Friedrich Moritz Weidenbach had arranged for Julius Clemens to become a gardener in South Australia for Carl August Sobels, who arrived in South Australia with Julius Clemens. However, they then went their separate ways. Sobels entrusted Julius Clemens to the care of Carl Gustav Schledlich, a labourer who had worked for Friedrich Moritz in Germany. Schledlich and Julius Clemens then ‘wandered the South Australian countryside in search of work’.

Within a matter of months Julius Clemens was dead. (Some ‘half a century later’, Schledlich wrote memoirs, which Chris Illert has drawn upon.) An inquest was held and concluded ‘death due to bronchitis’. A surgeon had been called for on 31 January 1848. Dr. Julius Pabst (‘formerly of Berlin’) came. Julius Clemens died on 6 February, in the house of Ferdinand Naumann, with Schledlich by his side. Chros Illert suggests that there was more to it, and that August Friedrich and Friedrich Moritz had been ‘fully informed’. Ferdinand Moritz and his family arrived in South Australia in March 1848, on the Pauline (the third child was born on the voyage). In the book there are 6 children mentioned: (1) benno (born 1843), who married Minna Helen Illert (1867-1930) and had 3 children; (2) Max (born 1847?); (3) Ann (born 1848); (4) Edwin, who managed the ‘King of Hanover’ hotel for his mother; (5) Clara, who owned a boarding house for ‘refined gentlewomen’; and (6) Julius, who ‘owned a network of general stores at Millicent, Maitland and Port Augusta – which he apparently kept provisioned by operating his own private shipping company from Rivoli Bay’.

The fourth Weidenbach brother to come to South Australia, it seems, was Gustav Adolph, who arrived in 1849 ‘under an assumed identity’. In September of the same year, a fifth brother, Maximilian Ferdinand, arrived, on the Australia

Maximilian Ferdinand became the acting Prussian Consul in South Australia. He was ‘toppled’ from this position in 1855, when ‘Queen Victoria negotiated the appointment of Francis Dutton as Prussian Consul.

‘Maximilian (Max) Ferdinand Weidenbach (1823-1890)’, The Dictionary of Australian artists: painters, sketchers, photographers and engravers to 1870. Edited by Joan Kerr. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1992 (p.848). AI 709.9403 D56K

Maximilian Ferdinand Weidenbach (1823-90) ‘was the fifth of at least seven sons of a drawing master at Naumberg in Thuringia, Prussia’. The article mentions 6 Weidenbach brothers who settled in South Australia, but names only 4 of them:

(1) Moritz (died 1858), the oldest brother, who came to South Australia in March 1848, with his wife and 3 children; (2) August Friedrich, the second oldest brother, a coach-bilder and engineer, who came to South Australia in 1846, worked ‘in the notorious Glen Osmond tin mines’, then farmed in Hope Valley; (3) Maximilian Ferdinand, who came to South Australia in September 1849, on the Australia, together with 2 other brothers, whose names are not given; and (4) Julius (died 1848), who came to South Australia in 1847.

Maximilian Ferdinand had studied in Berlin under the Egyptologist, Richard Lepsius. Together with his brother, Ernst Weidenbach, he was appointed artist on Richard Lepsius’s 1842-45 Egyptian expedition, ‘sponsored by Friedrich Wilhelm IV at Alexander von Humboldt’s instigation’. Maximilian Ferdinand was subsequently appointed to the Royal Museum at Berlin, where he spent 3 years ‘painting hieroglyphic murals in the Egyptian Rooms’.

When Maximilian Ferdinand arrived in South Australia, ‘he was immediately appointed the first Prussian consul in South Australia, retaining this position until 1855’. Believing that miners in South Australia were being exploited, he encouraged them to head for the Victorian goldfields. Maximilian Ferdinand himself headed for Ballarat in 1852, with his brother, Moritz, then returned to Glen Osmond with sufficient funds to build a house and take up viticulture: ‘he continued to ally himself with members of the German community who were inciting the miners to strike in order to improve conditions and pay, and he encouraged the formation of “friendly societies” and other working-class self-help groups, hoping, in particular, to provide free secular education for working-class children.’ A government school at Glen Osmond was established in 1859.

After Moritz’s death, Maximilian Ferdinand supported his family and managed the estate. In 1868 he helped found the ‘Süd Australischer Allgemeiner Deutscher Verein, a German society open to all classes of migrants’, and in 1872 set himself up as an agent for the South Australian government’s assisted immigration scheme. In February 1882, he left Adelaide, on the German warship, Carola, to return to Berlin ‘for a reunion of the Lepsius expedition members’, then returned again to Adelaide in February 1883, on the Siam.

The article mentions that all known copies of his sketches ‘were destroyed during the First World War’.


Commemorative biography of Maximilian Ferdinand Weidenbach / written ... by Chris Illert Bib ID 1742469 Format BookBook Author Illert, C. R. (Christopher Roy)

Description Henley Beach, S. Aust. : C. Illert, 1981 84 p. : ill., facsims., map, ports. ; 30 cm. ISBN 0959720138 Notes At head of title: Science-Art Library.

Available from Mr. C. Illert, P.O. Box 115, Henley Beach, S. A. 5022.

Includes bibliographical references.

Subjects Weidenbach, Maximillian Ferdinand, 1823-1890. | Weidenbach, Maximillian Ferdinand, 1823-1890. Biographies | South Australia -- Biography.

Egyptologist Maximilian Ferdinand Weidenbach
Wikipedia extract as at 28 November 2020

Maximilian Ferdinand Weidenbach

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Max Weidenbach (hinter dem Flaggenmast, rechts von ihm sein Bruder Ernst) im Kreise der Teilnehmer der Lepsius-Expedition auf der Spitze der Cheops-Pyramide, Aquarell von Johann Jakob Frey, 1842

Maximilian Ferdinand Weidenbach (* 6. März 1823 in Naumburg; † 24. August 1890 in Glen OsmondAustralien) war ein deutscher Zeichner, Maler, wissenschaftlicher Illustrator, Teilnehmer einer Expedition nach Ägypten, Goldsucher, preußischer Konsul in Südaustralien und dort Weinbaupionier.

Max Weidenbach wurde als vierter Sohn von acht Kindern von Friedrich August Weidenbach (1790–1860) und Christiane Friederike Vollmer (Vollner) (1795–1863) geboren. Sein Vater war Zeichenlehrer und Maler, bei dem er wie sein jüngerer Bruder Ernst (1818–1882) ersten Zeichenunterricht erhielt. Im Jahr 1839 zog er mit 16 Jahren nach Berlin und lernte dort unter Anleitung von dem ebenfalls aus Naumburg stammenden Ägyptologen Karl Richard Lepsius Hieroglyphen lesen und dokumentieren. Für Lepsius’ Werk Das Todtenbuch der Ägypter nach dem hieroglyphischen Papyrus in Turin (1842) schuf er die 79 Tafeln.[1]

Zusammen mit seinem Bruder Ernst nahm er an der Preußischen Ägyptenexpedition unter Leitung von Lepsius von 1842 bis 1845 teil und illustrierte später auch das Tafelwerk. In Berlin war er mit seinem Bruder bis 1848 im Neuen Museum mit der malerischen Ausgestaltung nach Motiven der Ägyptenexpedition tätig.

Einige seiner Brüder waren bereits nach Südaustralien ausgewandert, ihnen schloss er sich an und erreichte Adelaide am 12. September 1849. Hier betätigte er sich erfolgreich bei der Exploration neu entdeckter Goldfelder. Er erhielt die Position des ersten preußischen Konsuls für Südaustralien, die er bis 1855 innehatte, und widmete sich dem Weinbau. 1882 erhielt Max Weidenbach die Einladung, um in Deutschland bei einem Jubiläumstreffen der Teilnehmer an der Königlich Preußischen Expedition nach Ägypten teilzunehmen, die mitgebrachten zeichnerischen Werke aus Südaustralien gelten als verschollen.

Weidenbach ist am 24. August 1890 in Glen Osmond gestorben und auf dem dortigen Friedhof Glen Osmond Cemetery beerdigt. Ein Teil seiner ägyptologischen Bücher mit seinem Tagebuch von seinen Reisen und seine Sammlung von Antiken wurde 1944 dem South Australian Museum geschenkt. Erst 2013 wurde in Adelaide sein bisher unveröffentlichtes handschriftliches Tagebuch der 1840er Jahre wiederentdeckt und der Forschung zugänglich gemacht.[2]

Literatur[Bearbeiten | Quelltext bearbeiten]

  • Christopher Roy Illert: Commemorative biography of Maximilian Ferdinand Weidenbach. Outstanding 19th century egyptologist, artist, explorer and humanitarian. C. Illert [Selbstverlag], Henley Beach, South Australia 1981, ISBN 0-9597201-3-8 (84 S.).
  • Franz H. Thrupp: Maximilian Ferdinand Weidenbach – Member of the Royal Prussian Expedition to Egypt 1842–1845. In: Bulletin of the Australian Centre for Egyptology, Bd. 14, 2003, S. 111–115.
  • Morris L. Bierbrier: Who was who in Egyptology. 4th revised edition. Egypt Exploration Society. London 2012, ISBN 978-0-85698-207-1, S. 568.
  • Sabrina Bernhardt, Sören Franke: Die Teilnehmer der Lepsius-Expedition. In: Elke Freier, Franziska Naether, Siegfried Wagner (Hrsg.): Von Naumburg bis zum Blauen Nil. Die Lepsius-Expedition nach Ägypten und Nubien. Stadtmuseum Naumburg, Naumburg 2012, S. 36–41 (Digitalisat)
  • Marlene Thimann: Pharaonische Altertümer, Goldgräberei und australischer Wein. Das abenteuerliche Leben des Naumburger Maximilian Ferdinand Weidenbach. In: Saale-Unstrut-JahrbuchISSN 1431-0791, Bd. 18, 2013, S. 89–102.

Weblinks[Bearbeiten | Quelltext bearbeiten]

Einzelnachweise[Bearbeiten | Quelltext bearbeiten]

  1.  Édouard NavilleLepsius, Karl Richard. In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Band 51, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1906, S. 659–670.; Karl Richard Lepsius: Das Todtenbuch der Ägypter nach dem hieroglyphischen Papyrus in Turin. Wigand, Leipzig 1842. (PDF; 4 MB).
  2.  Mystery of Ancient Egypt Diary Uncovered. In: Website des South Australian Museum vom 10. Oktober 2013. Abgerufen am 16. November 2014 (englisch); Tim Lloyd: SA Museum finds German Egyptologist Maximillian Weidenbach's treasured diary. In: The Advertiser, Adelaide, 15. Oktober 2013. Abgerufen am 15. November 2014 (englisch).

Ernst & Maximilian Weidenbach



Theodor Ernst (Ernst) and Maximilian Ferdinand (Max) were both artists. They accompanied the famous Egyptologist, Lepsius, to Egypt and the Sudan in 1842-1845 and are still renowned for their numerous drawings and paintings which provide a precise record of the hieroglyphs and monuments observed by Lepsius.

Ernst, the third son, was born in Naumburg an der Saale on the 4th of December 1818. He received his first drawing training from his father in Naumburg. In 1837, When he was 18 years old, he moved to Merseburg then on to Dresden where he studied at the Dresden Art Academy. In 1840 Ernst arrived in Berlin to be practise, under Lepsius's guidance, the specialist drawing skills required for the Royal Prussian expedition to Egypt. Lepsius had applied directly to the King for support for Ernst, convincing the king of Ernst's capability by showing the king a  painting by Ernst of the Naumburg cathedral.

Max, the fifth son, was born in Naumburg an der Saale on the 6th March, 1823. He received his first drawing training from his father in Naumburg. In 1839, when he was 16 years old, he travelled to Berlin to be trained in hieroglyphics and Egyptology by the Egyptologist, Richard Lepsius, who also came from Naumburg. His first achievement was the 79 lithographs published in 1842, which show the 17.3 m long Turiner "Book of the Dead". For this work Max Weidenbach used “contact prints” of the original, which had been made by Lepsius in 1836.

Please click on an image below to enlarge it.

Karnak Lepsius Party Cheops Max Weidenbach Hieroglyphics

Temple of Karnak, Thebes

"Denkmäler aus Ägypten und Äthiopien",  lepsius 1859

This is one of many architectural and topographical drawings made by the extremely talented artist, Ernst Weidenbach. All details had to be shown with scientific precision.


The enlargement is the original drawing by J.J.Frey, 1842. It shows Richard Lepsius in the white coat, Max Weidenbach (19yrs) behind the flagpole and his bearded brother Ernst (23yrs) beside him to the right.

Hieroglyphics at the Pyramid, Abu Sir

"Denkmäler aus Ägypten und Äthiopien",  lepsius 1859

This is typical of the work of Max Weidenbach. Max had specialist training in hieroglyphics. As well as producing accurate records in his own drawings he also advised other team members.


Together with Lepsius, Max Weidenbach (aged 19) left Berlin in August 1842 for London from where they travelled by ship to Alexandria, together with J. Bonomi (sculptor), J.J. Frey (artist) and J. Wild (architect). In mid September they met the other participants of the Royal Prussian expedition.

Ernst Weidenbach (aged 23) left Berlin in August 1842 for Venice together with George Erbkam (architect). From Venice they travelled by ship to Alexandria. In the middle of September Richard Lepsius arrived there with the other expedition participants.

From September 1842 until April 1845 Ernst and Max made painstakingly accurate, scaled drawings of monuments and hieroglyphics. In 1859, this work was published in the twelve volumes of Lepsius' vast "Denkmäler aus Ägypten und Äthiopien". The University of Halle in Sachsen Anhalt has now published the complete work at . Here one can examine the brilliant work of the Ernst and Max (among others) by selecting "Tafelwerke" > "Abteilung" > "Band - " and stepping through the pages of one of the twelve volumes.