January 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
John Lucas, portrait painter, 1828-1874: a memoir of his life mainly deduced from the correspondence of his sitters, by his son, Arthur Lucas (London: Methuen 1910)
“Our admiration of the book itself and for Mr Arthur Lucas’s filial piety only increases our regret at remaining unconvinced as to the claims of John Lucas to a place in the front rank of painters. The Victorian era, especially in the earlier years, is in fact a somewhat dismal record of competent mediocrity. Genius, or what remained of it, died with Sir Thomas Lawrence in 1830, and many years were to elapse before it again showed its head above the soil in British art.
“It was a dull, drab period, for which the artists themselves cannot be held wholly responsible. The patrons of art liked paintings which they could understand, and which reflected their own ideas and personalities to the exclusion of the painter’s. Painters were only too complaisant, and under the presidency of Sir Francis Grant mediocrity reigned supreme at the Royal Academy, and thus received the hallmarks of authority…
“The survey of a career like that of John Lucas enables us to understand why in certain circles Winterhalter should have been preferred.”
© L.C., “Reviews and Notices”, The Burlington Magazine, 18: 96 (Mar 1911), 357.
January 14, 2012 § Leave a comment
“The likeness of Princess Alice, taken in 1857, by the Court painter, Herr Winterhalter, presents to our eyes a well-grown young lady of fourteen, who, as the novelists say, might be older. It is a fact very humiliating to physiognomists that the character and expression of a face are greatly influenced by the arrangement of the hair; and we suppose this is the reason why we are not forcibly struck by the resemblance of the young Princess to her parents.
“Nevertheless, we can with little difficulty trace in these delicate features certain general repetitions of the family type. There are “the ripe Guelph cheek and the straight Coburg brow,” though the former is less Guelphic in its ripeness than we have observed to be the case with other cheeks among princes of the blood royal, while the Coburg brow loses a little of its individuality by the partial adoption of a coiffure recently in vogue at the Tuileries.
“Mr Lane has considerately softened the harsh materialism, and modified the Dutch flatness which are so distinctive of the Winterhalter school of painting; and at the same time he has preserved all the best qualities belonging to an artist who is inspired with no comprehensive or elevated ideas of human life.” [See cat. no. 582]
© “Lithographic Portraits of the Royal Family.” Daily News, 22 November 1859, 3.
January 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
“This graceful group of royal children is worthy of this courtly painter’s best efforts, and in its pleasing arrangement, the prettiness of the faces and attitudes, and cheerfulness of the landscape, one is almost unconsciously reminded of his first work by which he achieved celebrity, and though the vistas of the Isle of Wight may not be as classical as the heights of Fiesole, still there is somehow an identity of touch and feeling in both figure and landscape, which makes it the more regrettable that this accomplished painter should ever have abandoned his first style.
“Mr Winterhalter’s sojourn in England has, however, not been void of the benefit which ever accrues to those who come in contacts with its colourists. A more chastened feeling pervades his family groups, and the light and shade is more pleasantly subdued, the varied expressions of these pretty juvenile heads, from the pensive to the sportive, are rendered with masterly discrimination. The motive, too, of arranging flowers, a favourite pastime, is gracefully told. The way in which the lights and darks of the dresses are contrasted show no less the well-skilled hand in telling effects. The neat and careful modelling of the engraving, not less than the pleasing effect of the design, entitle the engraver, Mr. G. Richardson Jackson, to the highest commendation.” (See cat. no. 359)
© “Fine Arts”, Daily News, 4 January 1851, 6.
January 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
Review of the Exhibition of The Royal Family and Prince of Wales by F.X. Winterhalter at St James’s Palace in 1847:
“The Banqueting Hall, in St James’s Palace, has been turned into an exhibition room, and the public are admitted by orders from the Lord Chamberlain to see “the two royal pictures,” painted by Winterhalter, for the Queen, in January of the present year.
“The small picture is a full-length portrait of the Prince of Wales in a sailor’s dress – a black straw cap on his head, little bits of blue about his shirt, black horn-buttons to his white jean trousers, his handkerchief tied about his neck in a sailor’s knot, and his hands stuffed deep into the pockets of his trousers. Such is a description of the picture, but little can be said in favour of it as a work of art. The attitude is easy enough, but the face wants character. What would it have been in Sir Joshua Reynolds’s hands? Look at his Master Crewe as Henry VIII., so full of character and colour. With all its defects, this portrait of the Prince is a national picture. One warms to the dress, and “Rule, Britannia,” and “Ye mariners of England,” rush willingly to the lips. [Cat. no. 319]
“The second of “the two royal pictures” is what painters call a family group. It is a very large picture, representing the Queen and Prince Albert and their five children. It is almost as much an indoor as an outdoor scene. The Queen and the Prince are represented seated on a sofa – the Queen in a white dress and the order of the Garter, and the Prince in a suit of black, with black silk stockings. On the Queen’s right, and standing by her side, is the Prince of Wales, in a red velvet dress, and immediately in front of the Queen is her Majesty’s second son, in the act of running to play with his three sisters, who form a charming group on the left of the composition. The two elder Princesses are playing with their youngest sister on a cushion on the ground, and the Prince Albert is represented touching the Queen’s hand, and directing her attention to the group before her, while his left hand hangs lackadaisically down, as if he was fond of showing off his wristband. On the Prince’s left is a table, with fruit upon it, and on her Majesty’s right is a vase of flowers. [Cat.no. 316]
“Such is a brief description of a very interesting picture; one, however, which cannot be compared for a moment with the Pembroke family at Wilton, the Marlborough family at Blenheim, or the Cornaro family at Northumberland House, but richer in colour than we had been led to expect from the pictures, at Sir Robert Peel’s, of the Queen and the Prince by the same artist. The “exhibition,” if such it may be called, will well repay a visit. We may add that the two pictures are to be engraved – both, we believe, by Mr. Cousins, who never suffers a work to pass from his hands without adding to its excellences.”
© “Fine Arts”, Daily News, 1 May 1847, 5.
January 11, 2012 § 6 Comments
Review of F.X. Winterhalter’s portrait of Queen Adelaide (1849, oil on canvas, HM Queen Elizabeth II, cat nos 357 & 358), in Caledonian Mercury, 4 March 1850:
“It is not generally known, that her late Majesty the Queen Dowager sat to Winterhalter for her portrait within a very short period of her demise; indeed, the last sitting took place within a month of her death. The portrait was painted expressly for her late Majesty’s brother, the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, and is a fine specimen of Winterhalter’s talent.
“It represents the Queen Dowager in a sitting posture, and admirably reserves the features of the lamented deceased. There is nothing painful in the expression, as might be apprehended by those unacquainted with the Christian calmness and humility with which her late Majesty contemplated her approaching dissolution almost up to the moment when this world closed upon her, and the picture is altogether a highly interesting work of art.
“Three copies have been made by Mr. W. Corden, of Old Windsor, respectively for her Majesty the Queen, her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent, and his Serene Highness Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar; in addition to which Mr Lane has made a very beautiful lithographic drawing of the portrait for private distribution. The original picture is already on its way to Germany.”
[© “Portrait of the Queen Dowager”, Caledonian Mercury, 4 March 1850]
January 10, 2012 § 1 Comment
Portrait of Virginie de Sainte-Aldegonde by Hermann Winterhalter at Christie’s, 1 Feb 2012
A watercolour by Hermann Winterhalter is coming up for auction at Christie’s London, in their South Kensington rooms, on 1 February 2012, sale no 4219, 19th Century European Art, lot 96.
This very fine and charming watercolour is a copy by Hermann Winterhalter after a celebrated portrait by his brother, Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-73), of Mlle Virginie Marie Louise de Sainte-Aldegonde, the future Duchesse de Rochechouart-Mortemart (1834-1900), of 1839 [Winterhalter Catalogue, no 162].
The portrait shows the five-year-old Virginie seated out of doors, in white dress with red patterned sash around her waist, pantaloons and black lace-up shoes showing from underneath the skirt. Her hair is parted in the middle and fashionably arranged in cascading ringlets. She is leaning, boldly and innocently, on a massive dog, and puts her arm around its neck. The pair is placed in a seaside setting on a small sandy hillock with sparse shrubbery on either side of the picture; a seascape with swirling clouds is visible in the background.
Winterhalter underscores the high social standing of the girl (she was a scion of an old aristocratic family) with such trappings of aristocratic portraiture as landscape setting, an architectural detail of a building in the background, as well as the dog itself, most likely a Neapolitan mastiff, used for hunting, which was historically a privilege reserved for the land-owning aristocracy. At the same time, the motif of a girl with a dog within a landscape and a quasi-Mediterranean setting give the picture a more general appeal of a genre composition that transcends the strict limitation of portraiture. This ‘universality’ was of major importance in the annals of the Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century portrait painting, and Franz Xaver Winterhalter succeeds here with aplomb.
As such, this painting can be placed among other Winterhalter’s children portraits of the era, that strike a careful balance between a portrait and a genre painting, such as Princess Maria Colonna by a Garden Pool (1834, oil on canvas, Private Collection, no 91) and Children of Baron von Schweitzer (1835, oil on canvas, Private Collection, no 104).
The original portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter was lent to the exhibition Winterhalter: Portraits de Dames du Second Empire, at Galerie Jacques Seligmann, in Paris, in 1928, by its then owner and descendant of the sitter, Comte de Mortemart (no 18). (It is presumed that the portrait remains by descent in the family.)
The portrait was lithographed by Alphonse Martinet (1821-1861), and published by Goupil & Vibert on 1 June 1844; the print was subsequently exhibited by Martinet at the 1844 Salon as Jeune fille avec un chien (no 2372).
Hermann Winterhalter, an academically-trained painter and a gifted artist in his own right, frequently assisted his older brother, Franz Xaver, with preparation of copies. Given the fact that Hermann only joined Franz Xaver’s studio in Paris no earlier than 1840, this wonderful watercolour can be dated from around the early 1840s, and as such may have been prepared by Hermann Winterhalter expressly as an aide for the lithographer Martinet in preparation of a print after the portrait.
The watercolour measures 21.4 x 27 cm; signed lower right H. Winterhalter c.; and estimated at £ 2,000-£4,000. Earlier provenance is currently unknown. It has been added to my catalogue of Hermann Winterhalter’s works (under the provisionary no 137).
© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2012
January 9, 2012 § Leave a comment
Notes to the Winterhalter Catalogue Project
The primary and erstwhile objective for the online catalogue of works by Franz Xaver and Hermann Winterhalter is to maintain an up-to-date CATALOGUE RAISONNE of their works, and attend to additions, changes, alterations, and corrections as soon as they come to hand, announcing them in the blogging section of the site.
For example, a watercolour by Hermann Winterhalter is coming up for auction at Christie’s in London in February. I am currently preparing an entry on this work, and it will be posted accordingly in the respective section of the online catalogue.
A slightly more ambitious side project is to utilise the blogging section to announce the appearance of works by the Winterhalter brothers on the art market; at various exhibitions; and in online and printed publications (past and present).
This is where YOUR HELP would be invaluable!
In spite of my best efforts, I am not omnipresent, and your ‘heads up’ on the works of the Winterhalter brothers at auctions, exhibitions, in the media, and in print would be most welcome and most invaluable!
Last but not least, this is also very much an awareness raising exercise in the most humble hope that those who may have works by Franz Xaver and Hermann Winterhalter in their collections would get in touch and provide further invaluable information to this project of the utmost worthiness (absolute privacy and discretion are guaranteed).
Once again, I can be contacted through the COMMENTS section of this site, or by email at vonreisberg[at]gmail[dot]com.
I look forward and in anticipation to your comments, additions, corrections, and the most welcome contributions!
Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, Melbourne, 9 January 2012