I recently went for a lovely trip around art galleries and museums in Southern Germany and France to view works by Franz and Hermann Winterhalter in their collections. But before I share some of my reminiscences about these magnificent encounters, I’d like to catch up on some of the works by the Winterhalter brothers that had recently appeared, or are about to appear, on the art market.
First and foremost, a charming genre study, Flora, or Jeune Fille aux Fleurs, had appeared at Koller West, on 5 December 2012, lot 6428.
The openly eroticised picture captures a young girl, bust length, blond hair parted in the middle and gathered at the back, decorated with small wreaths of white flowers on either side. A white loose blouse around her shoulders is modestly upheld with the right hand, in which she also holds a similar wreath of flowers. She is depicted thrusting forward, towards the viewer, while reaching with her left hand for more flowers from a tree or a bush growing at the back to the right, beyond the picture plane, out of the sight of the viewer. There is a suggestion of an abstracted landscape of shrubbery and clouds in the background.
The painting is not signed. The auction catalogue does not provide any provenance, or grounds for their attribution of this work to the hand of Franz Xaver Winterhalter. Granted, the girl in the picture looks not dissimilar to some of the models used by Hermann Winterhalter, and purely on stylistic grounds, a tenuous attribution can be made to the hand of Hermann, rather than Franz.
However, more research is definitely required to make any further, or indeed any firmer, attributions to the hand of either of the Winterhalter brothers.
The painting, which was estimated at € 250-420, was sold for € 2,600.
© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2013.