Portrait of Maximilian I Joseph, King of Bavaria (1756-1825), after Joseph Karl Stieler (1781-1858) [Part II]

June 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

025 25 Maximilian

Portrait of Maximilian I Joseph, King of Bavaria (1756-1825), after Joseph Karl Stieler (1781-1858) [Part II]

I often wondered if the simplified portrayal of the King of Bavaria in some of Stieler’s portraits – and subsequently in Winterhalter’s lithograph – is a rather subtle reference by the King and his artists to the fact that Maximilian I Joseph was literally not born in the purple.

As I stated in an earlier biographical sketch, Max I Joseph “was a minor scion of the Wittelsbach dynasty, and initially pursued a distinguished and respectable career in the military. The sudden death of his older brother in 1795 brought him the headship of a collateral ducal branch of the Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld family; and soon afterwards he found himself first in line to succeed the childless Carl-Theodor, Kurfürst of Pfalz and Bavaria (1724-99). Under the watchful eye of his able minister, Maximilian Graf von Montgelas (1759-1838), Maximilian was able to initiate and implement a number of important political, economic, social, educational, religious, and welfare reforms, and steer his country through the turbulent era of Napoleonic wars, preserving the integrity of Bavaria’s territorial gains as well as his royal status of a king, to which he was raised by the French Emperor in 1806.”

Therefore, the emphasis in Wintehalter’s lithographic portrait is not so much on Maximilian I Joseph’s royal status and accident of birth, but on his civic virtues and his role as the premier civil servant of the constitutional monarchy.

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2013.

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You are currently reading Portrait of Maximilian I Joseph, King of Bavaria (1756-1825), after Joseph Karl Stieler (1781-1858) [Part II] at The Winterhalter Catalogue.

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