Portrait of Wanda Fürstin von und zu Putbus (1837-1867) @ Sotheby’s
The second portrait consigned to Sotheby’s represents daughter-in-law of Clothilde Gräfin von Wylich und Lottum, whose portrait was discussed in the previous post.
It represents Wanda-Marie von Veltheim-Bartensleben, Fürstin v.u.z. Putbus (1837-67) [1858, Paris; oil on canvas, 100 x 81.5 cm, cat. no. 658], who was the eldest of two daughters, and the eldest of the three children, of Georg Albrecht Karl Freiherr von Veltheim-Bartensleben (1812-74) and his first wife, Asta-Luise Gräfin zu Putbus (1812-1850). In July 1857, shortly before her twentieth birthday, she married Wilhelm-Malthus, Graf von Wylich und Lottum (1833-1907), her first cousin, second son of her maternal aunt and future mother-in-law, Clothilde Gräfin von Wylich und Lottum (1809-94). The couple had five daughters, the three eldest of whom would inherit their father’s sovereign titles in succession. She was a regular fixture at social entertainments in Berlin, an expert huntress, and a hostess par excellence, entertaining a number of notable guests, including Otto von Bismark, at the family’s castle on the island of Rügen. The Princess died of puerperal fever sixteen days after giving birth to her youngest daughter, Wanda-Augusta, on 18 December 1867, aged 30 years and six months. Her sudden death was deeply lamented by her close friend, Queen Victoria eldest daughter, Victoria, Crown Princess of Prussia (later Empress of Germany).
The Princess is shown standing, at three-quarter-length, in half-turn to the left, and facing the viewer. Her hair is parted in the middle, brushed back and arranged in chignon and neck-length curls. She is wearing a black silk or satin travelling dress with white lace collar and a large black and red bow at the front; with black ruches, lace and other details on the sleeves and bodice. A large wrap is thrown around arms; light-brown leather gloves are worn. Her jewellery comprises of gold and jet earrings and a small (watch?) chain at her waist. The princess is shown against a bright red background, presumably the artist’s studio curtain.
The portrait was most likely commissioned to commemorate the sitter’s wedding in 1857 to Wilhelm-Malthus, Fürst v.u.z. Putbus (1833-1907). As Winterhalter was at the height of his career at the time, with the waiting list of up to two years, it is quite possible that the young bride may have waited for more than six months to have her portrait painted. The choice of a travelling / day dress is unusual in Winterhalter’s oeuvre. The large black wrap suggests that the portrait may have been painted either in winter or early spring of 1858 when the Princess was six to seven months pregnant. The strict and voluminous garments may have been chosen for the portrait to partially disguise her pregnancy.
Incidentally, the Princess was also painted by Richard Lauchert (oil on canvas, signed and dated as painted in 1863, Jagdschloss Granitz). Richard Lauchert was a pupil of F.X. Winterhalter, and also a cousin by marriage to Victoria, Crown Princess of Prussia, who commissioned a number of portraits from Lauchert and also recommended him to her mother, Queen Victoria. Wanda was a personal friend of the Crown Princess, and it is quite likely that the latter may have recommended Lauchert for the later portrait commission.
The portrait will be offered at Sotheby’s London, Of Royal and Noble Descent, 24 Feb 2015, lot 174 (est. £25,000-35,000). See http://www.sothebys.com/
I would like to thank Sotheby’s for acknowledging my assistance with cataloguing this work.
© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2015.