SPITZER, FRIEDRICH (SAMUEL):
French art collector and dealer; born in Presburg 1814; died in Paris 1890. He was the son of the official grave-digger of the community and went penniless to Vienna. In 1848 he accompanied the Austrian army to Italy, and upon his return commenced collecting objects of art. A picture which he bought for five gulden proved to be an Albrecht Dürer and laid the foundation of his fortune. Together with a dealer, König, he went to London, but being unable to sell this picture there, he disposed of it in Paris. His visits to the large collectors in England had, however, revealed to him the value placed upon old weapons, and accordingly, on his return to Austria, he bought up whatever old arms he could find, and sold them in London. Later he established a business at Aix-la-Chapelle, where he sold many antiquities to Baron Adolf von Rothschild. Wishing to increase his business, he went to London, but failing of success in that city, he accepted the invitation of Rothschild to settle permanently in Paris, where his business prospered greatly. In 1870, at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war, he sent the greater part of his collection to London, where it was subsequently bought by Sir Richard Wallace. His collection of armor he took to Vienna, where Baron Anselm von Rothschild bought it for 500,000 francs. Spitzer thereupon purchased the celebrated collection of Caran in Lyons. He had gradually amassed a large fortune and a splendid private collection of art objects, for which Gambetta offered him 6,000,000 francs. The collection was to be embodied in a state museum, of which Spitzer was to be director for life. A lottery was even instituted to provide the money, but the offer was finally refused. A Berlin syndicate, headed by the banker Hainauer, offered 25,000,000 francs for the whole gallery; but nothing resulted from this offer. In his will Spitzer arranged that his collection should be sold three years after his death. It then brought10,000,000 francs, the armor being sold to the present King of England. The illustrated "Catalogue de la Collection Spitzer" (3 vols., Paris, 1887) is a remarkable production; its price was 1,200 francs.