~ Shop ~

ORIENATLISM IN PRAGUE: Linguistische Verein in Prag [Linguistic Society in Prague]



A photograph of today little known Prague-based Linguistic Society, joining the prominent Austro-Hungarian researchers of Africa, as well as Indian, Arabic and Classical languages.


Gelatin silver photo, contemporary mounted on thick card, manuscript numbers recto in margin, black manuscript in black ink and pencil on the back, 12 x 16,5 cm (4.7 x 6.5 inches), (minor foxing verso, overall in a good condition).


Additional information



Place and Year

1 in stock


A (Scientific) Society for Folklore and Linguistics ((Wissenschaftliches) Verein für Volkskunde und Linguistik) was founded in Prague in 1893 with the first meeting held on February 20. The group under the directorship of professor Otto Keller and composed of men and women, gathered once per month in an upper class Prague hotel, where one of the academical members held a lecture (Hochschul Nachrichten, nr. 30, March 26, 1893, p. 23).
The members of the society were several prominent scientists of the time, such as the Africa explorer Oskar Lenz, Arabist Max Grünert and Indologist Alfred Ludwig. It is unclear how long the Society was active, but they issued several important publications into the early 20th century (last one 1906?).

Our photo names on reverse in handwriting 15 people of 31 present, which could be identifies as following:

[no. nr. 1]

2. Alois Rzach (1850 – 1935) Austrian professor of classic philology and author.

3. Mr. Quoika, probably Anton Quoika, a merchant in sugar and other products from Prague (Jahrbuch des Prager Dombau-Vereins 1893, p. 70; Handels- und Gewerbe-Adressbuch des österreichischen Kaiserstaates enthaltend: die sämmtlichen, nach dem neuen mit 1. Juli 1863… 1976, p. 385; et al.).

4. Max Grünert (1849 – 1929), Orientalist and Arabist.

5. Otto Keller (1838 – 1927) a German classical philologist and president of the society.

6. Alfred Ludwig (1832 – 1912), an Austrian Indologist and professor.

7. Oskar Lenz (1848 – 1925), a geologist and Africa explorer, who in 1879 – 1880 led the first trans-Sahara expedition from Morocco to Senegal and in 1885 – 1887 the Austro-Hungarian Congo Expedition.

8. Mrs. Scholz.

9. Elsa Maly, later Mrs. Lederer.

10. Mr. Scholz and his wife.

11. Paula Lenz, née Ridolfi, wife of prof. Oscar Lenz.

12. Mrs. Quoika, née Morawcz, wife of Mr. Quoika (Jahrbuch des Prager Dombau-Vereins 1893, p. 70).

13. Wife of a State Council Willkomm (Frau Staatsr. Willkomm), probably the wife of a botanist and one of a founding members of the Society, Moritz Willkomm (1821-1895), who also held a title of a state council (Staatsrat Dr. Moritz Willkomm, Allgemeine Botanische Zeitschrift 1, 1895, pp. 89-92). Willkomm married Klara Angelika Contius in 1854. They allegedly had five daughters and two sons.

14. Eugenie Keller, wife of Otto Keller.

15. Clothilde Keller (1874-1958), daughter of Otto and Eugenie Keller. In 1901, she married Rudolf Schaar, the state building engineer, and worked as an artist.

16. Minnerl (i. e. Wilhelmine) Quoika, probably a daughter of a wealthy Prague-based merchant Anton and his wife (Jahrbuch des Prager Dombau-Vereins 1893, p. 70).

The manuscript on the back reads on the bottom: “Präs. D. Verein: Mein Vater Otto Keller” (President of the Society: My Father Otto Keller), indicating that the owner of the photo was one of the children of professor Keller. Keller had two sons and one daughter: Sigmund (1870-1943), a prominent law historian and librarian, Wolfgang (1873-1943), a professor of literature and English, and Clothilde (1874-1958), an artist.

The photo is described on the back as made between 1890 and 1900, but had to be made in or after 1893, when the Society was founded. We could probably put its date closer to its foundation or around 1895, as Otto Keller appears slightly younger than on his portrait from 1897. Possibly the photo was made at a soirée, dedicated to the botanist and one of the founding members of the Society for Folklore and Linguistics, Moritz Willkomm, who passed on on August 26, 1895. A lady named “Mrs. State Council Willkomm” is seated in the center of the front row, infront of the president Otto Keller, and wearing a different, somehow more outstanding dress than other women of her age appears to be the guest of honour.

Only scarce information on this international Prague-based society, active for about two decades, are known today, mostly through contemporary sources.

The photo is an ephemeral insight into a little-known academic Bohemian, Austrian and German association, combining knowledge from ancient Greece, to contemporary Arabic and Indian languages as well as surveys of Africa, that should in the future deserve further researches.

Additional information



Place and Year