Description

    FRANZ XAVER WINTERHALTER (German, 1805-1875)
    Portrait of a Young Woman in Profile, circa 1867
    Oil on canvas
    22 x 17-1/2 inches (55.9 x 44.5 cm)
    Bears inscription lower right: 1857

    PROVENANCE:
    Private collection, Austin, Texas.

    The mid-19th-century German painter Franz Xaver Winterhalter bears the impressive distinction of receiving more portrait commissions from royalty throughout the world than any other artist. For over four decades, from 1828-72, he painted members of the royal courts of Germany (Grand Duke Leopold), France (King Louis-Philippe and Emperor Napoleon III), England (Queen Victoria), Spain (Queen Isabella II), Belgium (King Leopold I), Poland (Countess Potocka), Russia (Empress Maria Alexandrovna), Mexico (Emperor Maximilian I), and Austria (Emperor Franz Joseph). His favorite sitters included Queen Victoria, completing over 120 portraits of her family and circle; Empress Eugénie of France, whom he commemorated in his finest group portrait, Empress Eugénie Surrounded by her Ladies in Waiting, which was exhibited at the Universal Exposition of 1855; and Empress Elisabeth of Austria, his muse later in life. Indeed, Winterhalter truly shone in his "Neo-Rococo" portraits of women, paying especial attention to their opulent dresses and jewelry and ornate hairstyles. His sitters adored him for his ability to achieve elegant and idealized likenesses that captured personality and character. Given the lush costume details of his portraits, it is surprising that Winterhalter painted directly onto the canvas, rapidly and fluidly, without making preliminary studies.

    Winterhalter often created small, intimate portraits of non-royal models as a form of relaxation from the demands of formal court portraiture. Portrait of a Young Woman in Profile, likely from the mid-1860s at the height of his career, is one such fine example. Here, Winterhalter exhibits his skills as a draftsman, highlighting the individuated strands of her hair, and as a colorist, balancing the peach-and-cream tones of her face with the darker blue-grey tones of her dress. By rendering the girl in profile with a faraway look, he imbues her with wistfulness and earnestness. Her fashionable, but simple lace-collared satin dress and her perfect coiffure anchored with a velvet headband connote both wealth and modesty. Winterhalter's non-commissioned works like Portrait of a Young Woman allowed him to experiment with realistic poses and psychology even more effectively than his official portraits.

    This work has been authenticated from photographs by Mr. Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, and will be included in his forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work. Mr. von Reisberg believes that the 1857 date on the canvas may have been added at a later time (by the artist or another hand) and that a likelier date for the painting would be the mid to late 1860s.


    Condition Report*:

    Lined canvas; Framed Dimensions 26.5 X 22 Inches

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    December, 2014
    10th Wednesday
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