Winterhalter’s Portraits in Vintage Photographs: Winter Palace

Winter Palace

I love finding images of Winterhalter’s works in vintage photographs – such as this photo from the interiors of the Winter Palace in St Petersburg.

The above image represents the study of the Emperor Alexander II, and it is believed to have been taken in the early 1880s, shortly after his assassination. The eagle-eyed Winterhalter fans would readily recognise on the lower left the portrait of the Emperor’s mother, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (1798-1860, née Charlotte Prinzessin von Preussen), painted by Winterhalter in Germany, in Wildbad, in 1856, and showing the  Empress Dowager in a white gown with turquoise jewellery – traditional signs of mourning at the Russian Imperial Court.

The portrait of the Emperor’s mother is complemented on the lower right by the portrait of the Emperor’s wife, Empress Maria Alexandrovna (1824-80, née Wilhelmina Marie Prinzessin von Hessen-Darmstadt), painted by Winterhalter also in Germany, in 1857, with the sittings recorded at Bad Kissingen and Brückinau in late July 1857. It would be no exaggeration to state that the portrait became one of the most beloved images of the Empress, being popularised through versions, copies, and prints directly after – or inspired by – the portrait.

Portraits of the Emperor’s father, Emperor Nicholas I, and of the Emperor’s grand-mother, Empress Maria Feodorovna (wife of Pavel I), by other artists, can also be distinguished on the walls. The two Winterhalter portraits sandwich a later portrait of the Empress Maria Alexandrovna by Heinrich von Angeli, who would later succeed Winterhalter at the British Court as one of Queen Victoria’s favourite portrait painters. 

It is believed that the two Winterhalter portraits had remained in the Emperor’s study at the Winter Palace, which was left untouched following his assassination in 1881. Both portraits were loaned to the celebrated exhibition of portraits from Russian private collections, which took place at the Tauride Palace in 1905 and curated by Sergei Diagilev. They also appear to have featured in the exhibition celebrating the Tercentenary of the Romanov Dynasty in 1913. Following the Revolution of 1917, the portraits were nationalised with the rest of the Imperial Collections, and have entered the collections of the State Hermitage.

© Dr Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 17 July 2019

 

‘Portrait of Clémentine de Boubers, Baronne Renouard de Bussierre’ (1854) by Hermann Winterhalter @ Sotheby’s Paris

017b Boubers Bussiere

Portrait of Clémentine de Boubers, Baronne Renouard de Bussierre (1854), by Hermann Winterhalter, @ Sotheby’s Paris

The aformentioned auction featured a portrait of Mélanie de Pourtalès’s sister-in-law, Clémentine de Boubers, Baronne Paul Renouard de Bussierre (1829-1861), by the hand of Hermann Winterhalter.

The baroness is painted at the age of 25, at just over half-length, posed frontally, with her face in semi-profile to the right. She is wearing an evening gown of white satin over a lace-edged under-blouse, with white silk bows at the sleeves and the waist. Apart from the corsage of pink roses and a golden wedding band at the base of the ring finger, the baroness wears no other jewellery or visible decorations.

The provenance of the portrait is unclear. The portraits of the sitter, her husband, and her sister are framed identically, suggesting that they were at one stage in the same collection. As Clémentine and her husband had no children, it is likely that their portraits may have passed to her sister-in-law, Mélanie de Pourtalès, and thence, by family descent, to Christian, Comte de Pourtalès, at Château de Martinsvart, from whose collection it was offered at Collection Schickler-Pourtalès: Art et Pouvoir au XIXe siècle, by Sotheby’s Paris, on 16 May 2019.

Clémentine’s white dress may suggest that the portrait references her marriage two years’ prior. The three states of the roses—wilting, blooming, and budding—are quite unusual in the context of a formal portrait, and may indicate Hermann Winterhalter’s own allegoric and moralising touch. The lack of jewellery broadly corresponds with the prevalent depictions of French aristocracy in the middle of the nineteenth century, and especially during—or shortly after—the Second Republic. It also may indicate the sitter’s personal piety and the lack of ostentatious tastes, reflective of her Protestant faith.

Offered with the estimate of € 30,000-40,000, the portrait appears to have found no buyers. Although Hermann Winterhalter may have been as talented as his celebrated older brother, his art market performance remains relatively modest.

© Dr Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 16 July 2019

Winterhalter’s ‘Portrait of Mélanie de Bussière, Comtesse de Pourtalès’ (1857) @ Sotheby’s Paris

57po-a Pourtales small

It is always a thrill when iconic works by Franz Xaver Winterhalter turn up on the art market. While transferring the ‘custodianship’, they test the strength of the market and re-invigorate the collectors’ following.

Such was the case with Winterhalter’s Portrait of Mélanie de Bussière, Comtesse de Pourtalès (1838-1913), of 1857, at the sale Collection Schickler-Pourtalès: Art et Pouvoir au XIXe siècle by Sotheby’s Paris, on 16 May 2019 (lot 59). The understated beauty of the portrait, the delicate colour scheme, the vigorous and unrestrained brushwork, as well as the willingness of its various owners to lend it to exhibitions made it one of the most famous and most beloved of Winterhalter’s portraits. Its various artistic and aesthetic aspects are a fitting illustration to the artist’s enduring reputation as one of the most sought-after elite portrait specialists of the era.

Aged barely nineteen, the countess is painted standing, in a semi-turn to the right, against a loosely-executed verdant background. Portrayed almost en face, her gaze is directed at the viewer. She is wearing an evening gown of white satin, edged with azure ribbon and lace, and with matching bows of azure silk on the sleeves and the bodice. The date of the portrait suggests that it was commissioned to commemorate Mélanie de Bussière’s marriage to Edmond, Comte de Pourtalès-Gorgier (1828-95). Although she became the wife of one of the richest men in Paris, she wears no jewellery save for a wedding band and a small gem-set ring, reflective perhaps of the personal modesty of the sitter.

While the authorship of the portrait is beyond doubt, the signature may have been overpainted and / or added by a different hand.

Over the last 162 years of its existence, the portrait appears to have always remained in the family, passing between various branches and belonging to various descendants of the Countess, moving between their homes in Paris, Strasbourg, and Cherbourg.

The excellent condition of the portrait, its lustre as one of the most iconic works by the artist, as well as the added cache of continuous family ownership all played their magic. Estimated at € 120,000-150,000, the portrait sold for € 732,500, or, roughly, US$821,500.

It was widely rumoured that the city of Strasbourg was fundraising to secure this picture, as well as that it may have been secured by another member of the family. While the rumours have not been confirmed and the identity of the new owner has not been released, one humbly hopes that such important work was acquired for a public collection.

© Dr Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 9 July 2019

Winterhalter’s ‘Portrait of a Lady (believed to be Louise Freiin von Freystedt, Comtesse Olympe Aguado (1834-98)’ @ Roseberys of London

58zw-a Woman Aguado PLHH5861-01

Another fascinating portrait that recently graced the walls of an auction house represents an unknown lady, in an elaborate, low-cut, evening dress of white tulle and satin, richly decorated with lace, and with a lace shawl thrown over the crinoline skirt. She is most sumptuously bejewelled with earrings; a two-strand pearl necklace; a gem-set star-shaped brooch; bracelets on both arms, including a gold bangle with emerald and pearls; and gem-set rings on her fingers. Most notably, she is holding a lorgnette with an elaborately decorated, gem-set handle.

The portrait is signed, but not dated. Stylistically, it fits among the artist’s portraits from the late 1850s to the early 1860s. Such dating corresponds with the hairstyle á l’Impératrice and the elaborate crinoline skirt.

The identity of the sitter remains a mystery.

The label on the reverse of the painting suggests that the portrait represents a member of the Aguado family. The lady in the portrait looks to be in her early to mid-twenties. The only member of the Aguado family who fits the age of the sitter is Berthe Freiin von Freystedt (1834-98), who, in 1860, married Count Olympe Aguado (painted by Winterhalter in 1852).

A photo of Comtesse Olympe Aguado in the archives of Musée d’Orsay bears similarity with the lady in this portrait, especially in the outline of the brow, the nose, and the jawline. Other photos show her with a similar hairstyle; and one of the photos also shows her wearing glasses.

Further research is required to confirm convincingly the identity of the sitter and the history of the ownership of the portrait.

Estimated at £30,000 – £50,000, the portrait was sold for a comparatively modest sum of £28,000.

The portrait is given a provisional number 635 in the current version of my catalogue raisonné.

© Dr Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 3 July 2019

Winterhalter’s ‘Portrait of Countess Olga Esperovna Shuvalova’ @ Christie’s in Paris

60sh-b 60 Shuvalova 2019_PAR_17586_0050_003(franz_xaver_winterhalter_la_comtesse_olga_esperovna_chouvalov_nee_prin)

I was thrilled to see the above portrait to come up for sale at Christie’s in Paris, in their Tableaux anciens et du XIXème siècle sale on 25 June 2019.

The portrait represents Countess Olga Shuvalova (1838-69, née Princess Beloselskaia-Belozerskaia) at the age of thirty two. She is painted in an oval format, knee-length, seated, against a neutral background of golden-honey yellows. While she is painted en face, her light-brown eyes look upwards; her gaze transcends the picture plane. Her light-brown hair is dressed with a wreath of ivy leaves with garlands of green and purple acacia-style flowers. She is wearing a low-cut evening gown of white tulle, edged with lace, and decorated with an ivy-leaf corsage. A tasseled cream-coloured shawl, thrown over her right shoulder and the right arm, completes the Countess’s toilette. She rests an elbow on her knee, with fingers lightly supporting her chin. Unusually for a portrait of a Russian noblewoman in Winterhalter’s oeuvre, the Countess appears to be wearing no jewellery.

The portrait clearly forms a pendant to the portrait of the sitter’s husband, Count Pavel Shuvalov (1860, oil on canvas, Private Collection, cat. no. 687; illustrated in the previous post). Both portraits are carried out in a similar oval format, are roughly of the similar size, and are framed identically. As such, this is perhaps one of the very few known pendant portraits by Winterhalter of non-royal sitters.

The auction catalogue did not provide clear provenance for the portrait. While further research is still required, it is highly possible that both portraits were at one stage in the Demidov Collection until its dispersal by Christie’s in 1934.

Estimated at EUR 80,000-120,000, the portrait sold for EUR 150,000, demonstrating that the prices for Winterhalter’s portraits on the auction market have remained relatively steady.

The portrait is given a provisional number 688 in the current version of my catalogue raisonné.

© Dr Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 30 June 2019

Updates to the Online Catalogue Raisonne of the Winterhalter Brothers’ Works

60sh-a Count_Paul_Andreievich_Shouvaloff

Dear Friends,

As those of you who had time and patience to download my doctoral thesis on Winterhalter – ‘Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-1873): Portraiture in the Age of Social Change’ – https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/handle/11343/127963 – had noticed, it comes with a huge addendum of all works by Winterhalter known to me.

I am looking to publish my thesis (any recommendations and leads are welcome) – but, in the meanwhile, I will continue updating my online catalogue raisonne of the Winterhalter Brothers’ works.

Your assistance with the present version has been INVALUABLE and I cannot thank enough all those individuals and institutions who continue communicating with me and providing me, most generously and selflessly, with invaluable updates and… corrections!

In the coming weeks and months, I would share with you some of the more important updates as well as information on some of the works that have recently appeared on the art market.

I look forward to hearing from each and everyone of you – let’s keep the conversation about Winterhalter going!

#winterhalter #franzxaverwinterhalter #thesis #publication #dissertation #artcatalogues #artbooks #artmarket #artauctions #artsales

The Doctoral Thesis on Winterhalter is Done – Now, it’s back to the Online Catalogue Raisonné

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Dear Friends,

Apologies for my prolonged silence—all my energies have been focused on the completion of my doctoral dissertation on Franz Xaver Winterhalter, titled, accordingly, ‘Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-1873): Portraiture in the Age of Social Change’.

As the title suggests, my thesis focused on Winterhalter’s portraits and examined how it reflected social change which was taking place in the course of ‘the long Nineteenth Century’.

I am thrilled that Richard Ormond, the author and co-curator of the ground-breaking Winterhalter exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery and Petit Palais all way back in 1987-1988, was one of my examiners, and provided me with a most encouraging and supportive feedback.

While I was completing the thesis, I was also asked to contribute to another retrospective exhibition of Winterhalter’s works, which toured the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (TX); Augustinermuseum, Freiburg-im-Breisgau; and Musée National du Château, Compiègne between 2015 and 2017, and I am eternally grateful to Dr Helga Kessler Aurisch for involving me in the project and inviting me to contribute an essay to the exhibition catalogue.

My thesis is now available online – https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/handle/11343/127963

It is a LONG read – but if you have a chance and patience, would love to receive your feedback and continue the conversation about meaning and significance of Winterhalter’s beautiful works!

#winterhalter #franzxaverwinterhalter #thesis #dissertation #richardormond #helgaaurisch #npg #london #petitpalais #houston #freiburg #compiegne

Auction Results: Winterhalter Portraits @ Sotheby’s

513a 54 Putbus - Copy   658 58 Putbus Copy II

To follow up my two earlier posts, both portraits by Franz Xaver Winterhalter were sold at Sotheby’s London on 24 February 2015. Lot 173, Portrait of Clothilde Gräfin von Wylich und Lottumsold for £ 32,500 / € 44,255 / AUD 64,652. The portrait of her daughter-in-law, Wanda Fürstin von und zu Putbus (Lot 174), sold for £ 31,250 / € 42,553 / AUD 62,165.

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2015

Porträt eines jungen Herren @ Ketterer

Winterhalter 195 Jungen Herren

Porträt eines jungen Herren @ Ketterer

This spirited and lively sketch of a young man with a somewhat surprised and bemused expression on his face, by HERMANN WINTERHALTER, was offered at Ketterer Kunst’s Old Masters & Art of the 19th Century auction, in Munich, 21 Nov 2014, lot 196. Estimated at € 1,000, the drawing was sold for € 1,250 (and went to a very good collection in Germany).

The identity of the sitter remains unknown. The auctioneers dated the drawing from ca. 1870, which means the gentleman in the portrait was most likely a resident of Karlsruhe or Frankfurt-am-Main.

Every time I discover a new work by Hermann Winterhalter, every time I realise more and more what a talented and gifted artist he was in his own right. The drawing has been entered under the provisional no. 195 in Hermann Winterhalter’s catalogue.

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2015.

Portrait of Wanda Fürstin von und zu Putbus (1837-1867) @ Sotheby’s

658 58 Putbus Copy II

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.