Franz Xaver Winterhalter – Catalogue Updates – Travels in Germany

February 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Franz Xaver Winterhalter – Catalogue Updates – Travels in Germany 

It has been often claimed that upon completion of his studies at the Bavarian Academy of Arts, Winterhalter travelled widely; and there are even erroneous claims that his first tour of Italy took place in 1828. The fact remains that in 1827-1828 Winterhalter did do some travel and sightseeing, but not only he did not cross German borders, he did not even cross the borders of the Kingdom of Bavaria.

As I write in my forthcoming dissertation on the artist:

The artist completed his studies at the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in summer of 1827, and undertook a sabbatical travelling to Landshut, Regensburg, Nürenberg, Pommersfelden, and other towns. He visited museums, galleries, and historical buildings, exclaiming in a letter to his father: “Man muß etwas sehen, um es zu machen![1] It is interesting to observe that at this time Italy was preferred destination for German and European artists.[2] Winterhalter mentions numerous comings and goings of fellow painters to and from Rome, and even his father urged him to go to Italy “wie alle anderen Maler”.[3] However, Winterhalter remained immune to the allure of the south, and throughout his post-academic journeys he did not even cross Bavarian borders. It would seem that Ludwig Tieck’s (1773-1853) widely popular Franz Sternbalds Wanderungen (1798), where one of the characters advises an aspiring artist against travelling to Italy with the following words: “You will not become an Italian and you will not be able to remain a German… we are not in favour of antiquity… our subject is Nordic nature”,[4] was more influential on Winterhalter’s psyche that Goethe’s famous German longing for South. It is possible, that the inherent reluctance ofGermany’s lower social classes to move beyond one’s domains, financial restrictions, and stipend limitations also came into consideration at this point in time, thus preventing the artist from travelling to Italy and opting instead to return to Munich.

I am pleased to add further images to my catalogue – nos 32a and 32b – that illustrate this period of Winterhalter’s career. These images come courtesy of a private collector, who has an enviable collection of Winterhalter’s drawings and studies (as well as a number of outstanding works on paper by other artists).

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2012

[1] “One has to see it in order to make it”: letter from Franz Xaver inMunich to his parents in Menzenschwand, 3 August 1827; quoted in Mayer 1998, 92.

[2] See further discussion on this subject in Ulrich Finke, German Painting from Romanticism to Expressionism (London: Thames and Hudson, 1974), 31.

[3] „… like all other artists…“, quoted in Mayer 1998, 25.

[4] Quoted in Finke 1974, 18.


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