This is one of the few portraits of Alfred Nobel, as he thought his visage unattractive. Although he had an amazing capacity for work, he did not socialize, preferring to relax in his laboratory or with his collection of orchids. In a letter to Nobel, Bertha von Suttner described him as “a thinker, a poet, a bitter and good man, unhappy and gay, with superb flights and bad suspicions, passionately in love with the great horizons of human thought, and profoundly des-pising the pettiness of human stupidity, understanding every-thing and hoping for nothing, this is how you appear to me. Twenty years have erased nothing from that image.”
The multilingual Nobel corresponded with Aristide Rieffel, a French writer, with whom he shared an interest in international arbitration to promote peace between countries.
Nobel wrote, “You find me a ‘little enigmatic,’ yet who isn’t? We all carry within us the perpetual mysteries of the origins, purposes, and the destiny of life.”