Franz Xaver Winterhalter
744a. Das Früchtenmädchen, c. 1860-65
Oil on canvas, 46.3 x 38.0 cm
Last but not least, I should mention the most charming and beautiful study, Das Früchtenmädchen, which just recently came onto the art market at Schuler Auktionen, Zurich, Kunst und Antiquitätenauktion, 18-21 March 2013, lot 4341.
The painting depicts a young girl in profile, with light auburn hair brushed off the face, gathered on the nape, and secured with a tortoiseshell comb. She is wearing a simple garment of white linen, with a light turquoise-blue scarf around her neck. She is holding in her hands a platter with peaches, grapes, cherries, figs, and other fruit. The simplicity of the girl’s dress and demeanour contrasts significantly from Winterhalter’s portraits of women from the upper echelons of society, and suggests the artist is immortalising on his canvas a servant girl, or at the very least, a model posing as a servant girl bringing a platter of fruit to her master’s table.
This is not an isolated example of F.X. Winterhalter turning from straight portraiture to genre painting. The work strongly relates to the Study of a Girl in Profile (1862, oil on canvas, 58.0 x 47.0 cm, signed and dated lower right, Fr Winterhalter / 1862, private collection); and Die Briefleserin, or Portrait of a Lady Reading a Letter (early to mid-1860s, oil on canvas, 91.0 x 70.0 cm, signed, Augustinermuseum, Freiburg-im-Breisgau).
The painting, which was estimated at CHF 12,000/18,000, was sold at CHF 17,000 / € 14,000 approx., a fine result for a beautiful and rare genre painting by F.X. Winterhalter.
© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2013