Lessons in "pure visibility" (reine Sichtbarkeit): Victor Hammer's correspondence with Heinrich Schenker

Karen M. Bottge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 1924-25 Heinrich Schenker attended a number of sittings for his famous mezzotint portrait by the artist Victor Hammer (1882-1967). It was during this time that they began an ongoing exchange of ideas concerning the relations between art theory and music theory. These communications culminated in 1926 when Hammer mailed to Schenker four postcards of Renaissance paintings on which he affixed transparent overlays with notes and tracings. I interpret Hammer's annotations to reveal that Hammer and Schenker's theories find common ground in the nineteenth-century aesthetic theories of "pure visibility" (reine Sichtbarkeit) developed by Conrad Fiedler and Adolf von Hildebrand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-50
Number of pages26
JournalMusic Theory Spectrum
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Society for Music Theory. All rights reserved.


  • Adolf von Hildebrand
  • Alberti
  • Conrad Fiedler
  • Heinrich Schenker
  • Victor Hammer
  • da Vinci
  • pure visibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music


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