Portrait of the Viscountess Esher @ Christie’s London, 1 Dec 2022

A beautiful and rarely seen portrait of the Viscountess Esher is coming up for auction at Christie’s, in London, on 1 December 2022: https://onlineonly.christies.com/s/british-european-art-online/franz-xaver-winterhalter-german-1805-1873-151/173049

The sitter is represented on an oval-shaped canvas, against an abstracted background of darkened yellowish and bluish tints; the shadows thrown by her shoulders suggest an intimate interior environment. She is shown at half-length, in a semi-turn to the right, with her head slightly tilted to the left, turning en face to meet the viewer’s gaze. She is wearing a white silk chemise richly decorated with lace, and with lace-edged satin ribbons at the shoulder. A white gauze shawl is thrown over her right arm and is wrapped around just below her shoulders. Her jewellery comprises of a pearl necklace encircled thrice around her neck, and fastened with a golden, gem-set clasp. With her right hand, she fingers gently the pearls of the longest strand. A bracelet of large pearls is visible on her wrist; a gold and gem-set ring is seen on her ‘wedding’ finger.

Following her mother’s marriage to John Gurwood, a British officer and diplomat, Eugénie Mayer felt equally at home in Paris and London. Her exotic colouring and (what was described as) ‘eastern beauty’, with large, almond-shaped, dark-hazel eyes, and an abundance of black, wavy hair, dressed over the ears and crowned by a plaited chignon, inspired writers, poets, and painters on both sides of the Channel. She was extremely proud of her long neck and naturally slim, sloping shoulders, showing them off to their best advantage in low-cut gowns, and accentuating them by the clouds of weightless gauze shawls.  There was never a shortage of suitors from titled and wealthy admirers, but the questions over the legality of her mother’s separation from Eugénie’s father, Lazare Mayer; the rumours of her being an illegitimate daughter of the Emperor Napoleon; and (what was euphemistically referred to as) ‘irregularities’ in the private lives of her aunts (including a love affair with the celebrated French writer, Alexandre Dumas), kept marriage proposals at bay.

By the time Eugénie turned thirty, she resigned herself to the life of spinsterhood. She accompanied her mother on regular peregrinations, forming meaningful connections within political, social, and literary circles on both sides of the Channel. That is until the day when a young aspiring lawyer, Baliol Brett, saw her across the crowded room and became determined to make her his wife. A protracted engagement, during which Brett had focused on building up his practice and career, culminated in their marriage in 1850, and the birth of the couple’s first child in 1852.

The relatively modest scale of Winterhalter’s portrait, its oval shape (popularly associated with intimate miniatures), the physical proximity of the sitter within the shallow space, the direct gaze, a comparatively modest attire reminiscent of a peignoir, as well as the presence of pearls (and their association with purity, femininity, and childbirth), suggest that the painting was intended for an intimate audience of the sitter’s family and close friends, rather than as a formal and official representation. As such, it may have been commissioned, most likely, to commemorate the sitter’s wedding in 1850 (and perhaps also her pregnancy at the time of the sittings). The difference in dates between the sitter’s wedding and the completion of the portrait can be ascribed to the recorded, lengthy waiting periods which Winterhalter’s potential clients had to endure in order to be immortalised by the fashionable painter.

Eugenie and Baliol Brett, at the time, were not a part of Queen Victoria’s circle, either on an informal basis or as official courtiers. The portrait is, therefore, quite significant as one of the very few of Winterhalter’s representations of the British elite outside the immediate court circles. The inscription on the portrait indicates that it was painted in Paris. The sitter’s descent from Franco-German Protestant and Jewish banking and merchant dynasties fits within Winterhalter’s main Continental patronage networks, the members of which dominated the artist’s client base from the end of Louis Philippe’s July Monarchy in February 1848 and until the proclamation of Napoleon III’s Second Empire in December 1852.

Baliol Brett’s elevation to peerage as Lord Esher did not take place until 1885, and therefore the painting was originally known as Portrait of Mrs Baliol Brett. It was entered under this title into the artist’s account books (Wild 1894, 41). It was also under this title, that the portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in 1853 (no. 96), becoming one of the only three portraits exhibited by Winterhalter at the RA (and one of the only four paintings, including Florinda, of 1852, in the collection of HM King Charles III, to be shown there). While its presence in the exhibition was noted by several newspapers (such as Examiner, Morning Chronicle, and The Times), the references to it did not exceed a few brief platitudes.

After the exhibition, the portrait remained in the collection of the sitter and her descendants, virtually unknown to the wider world save for a small group of scholars. This is the first time in its 170-year history that the portrait is being offered on the art market.

Winterhalter’s ‘Portrait of Countess Olga Esperovna Shuvalova’ @ Christie’s in Paris

60sh-b 60 Shuvalova 2019_PAR_17586_0050_003(franz_xaver_winterhalter_la_comtesse_olga_esperovna_chouvalov_nee_prin)

I was thrilled to see the above portrait to come up for sale at Christie’s in Paris, in their Tableaux anciens et du XIXème siècle sale on 25 June 2019.

The portrait represents Countess Olga Shuvalova (1838-69, née Princess Beloselskaia-Belozerskaia) at the age of thirty two. She is painted in an oval format, knee-length, seated, against a neutral background of golden-honey yellows. While she is painted en face, her light-brown eyes look upwards; her gaze transcends the picture plane. Her light-brown hair is dressed with a wreath of ivy leaves with garlands of green and purple acacia-style flowers. She is wearing a low-cut evening gown of white tulle, edged with lace, and decorated with an ivy-leaf corsage. A tasseled cream-coloured shawl, thrown over her right shoulder and the right arm, completes the Countess’s toilette. She rests an elbow on her knee, with fingers lightly supporting her chin. Unusually for a portrait of a Russian noblewoman in Winterhalter’s oeuvre, the Countess appears to be wearing no jewellery.

The portrait clearly forms a pendant to the portrait of the sitter’s husband, Count Pavel Shuvalov (1860, oil on canvas, Private Collection, cat. no. 687; illustrated in the previous post). Both portraits are carried out in a similar oval format, are roughly of the similar size, and are framed identically. As such, this is perhaps one of the very few known pendant portraits by Winterhalter of non-royal sitters.

The auction catalogue did not provide clear provenance for the portrait. While further research is still required, it is highly possible that both portraits were at one stage in the Demidov Collection until its dispersal by Christie’s in 1934.

Estimated at EUR 80,000-120,000, the portrait sold for EUR 150,000, demonstrating that the prices for Winterhalter’s portraits on the auction market have remained relatively steady.

The portrait is given a provisional number 688 in the current version of my catalogue raisonné.

© Dr Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 30 June 2019

High Price Realised for a portrait by Hermann Winterhalter

016 60 Furtado-Heine

High Price Realised for a portrait by Hermann Winterhalter

Before I resume blog entries on the Winterhalter brothers, I would like to share a quick update on one of the previous posts.

The splendid painting by Hermann Winterhalter, Portrait of Mme Furtado-Heine (late 1850s / early 1860s, oil on canvas, 137.5 x 99.5 cm, Cat. No. HW 16), was sold at Christie’s Tableaux Anciens et du XIXe Siècle, in Paris, on 15 April 2013 (lot 61), for €121,500 (against the estimate of €30,000 – €50,000).

It is a the highest price ever paid for a single-figure portrait by Hermann Winterhalter, and the second highest price ever paid for any work by this artist (the highest price being USD$211,000 (against the estimate of US$180,000-220,000), paid for the Trois demoiselles de la famille de Châteaubourg (1850, oil on canvas, 102.2 x 81.3 cm, Cat. No. HW 117), at Christie’s 19th Century European Art, 8 April 2008, New York (lot 11).

While this price is still short of some of the more spectacular prices realised for the portraits of his famous brother, Franz Xaver Winterhalter, for me it shows that Hermann is also slowly getting the recognition that he so justly deserves.

As expressed before, I humbly hope that this work has gone to an institutional or an important private collection.

www.christies.com

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2013.

Portrait of Cecile Furtado-Heine @ Christie’s Paris, 15 April 2013 (cat. no. H 16)

016 60 Furtado-Heine

Hermann Winterhalter

H 16: Mme Cécile Furtado-Heine (1821-1896), née Furtado

 Oil on canvas, 137.5 x 99.5 cm

Signed lower left: H. Winterhalter

Private Collection

Christie’s Paris is featuring in their Tableaux Anciens et du XIXe siècle sale in Paris, on 15 April 2013, lot 61, arguably one of the most important works by Hermann Winterhalter, Portrait of Mme Cécile Furtado-Heine (1821-1896), née Furtado.

Mme Furtado-Heine is depicted standing three-quarter-length to the left, against a neutrally coloured background, facing the viewer. Her hair is parted in the middle and arranged in ringlets on the sides. She is wearing an evening black and white silk and taffeta dress decorated with a black silk bow and a pearl brooch with a drop pearl pendant at her corsage. A pelt of brown fur (possibly of sable), is covering her arms.

The portrait is considered among Hermann Winterhalter’s finest: in the foreword to the Winterhalter Exhibition in 1928, Armad Dayot wrote: “Sa clientèle de modèles n’atteignit pas à la hauteur hiérarchique de celle de son frère, mais il trouva parfois cependant de flatteuses occasions d’exercer avec succès son réel talent de peintre de la figure, comme dans l’exécution des beaux portraits d’Amaury Duval et de Mme Furtado, pour ne citer que deux de ses meilleures peintures… L’une des toiles plus réussies de l’œuvre iconographique d’Hermann, le portrait de Mme Furtado, … d’une belle générosité d’exécution…”

This important work of institutional quality and significance is estimated at € 30,000-50,000. Should it reach these estimates, it will be the second highest price ever achieved for a work by Hermann Winterhalter on the art market.

http://www.christies.com/

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2013

Book Review: The Second Empire 1852-1870: Art in France under Napoléon III

The Second Empire 1852-1870 Art in France under Napoléon IIISaturday, 7 July 2012

Book Review: The Second Empire 1852-1870: Art in France under Napoléon III

It was a pleasure to revisit the erudite catalogue of The Second Empire 1852-1870: Art in France under Napoléon III (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art; Detroit: Detroit Institute of Arts; Paris: Grand Palais, 1978-1979), which I had studied earlier during the nascent stages of my Winterhalter research. It was a ground-breaking exhibition inasmuch as anything that focused on aspects of nineteenth-century art other than David, Ingres, Delacroix, and Impressionism prior to the 1990s was ground-breaking. This volume remains an invaluable source of for any researcher working in the field of Second Empire or nineteenth-century art in general, or indeed Franz Xaver Winterhalter in particular.

For example, excellent overarching essays by Jean-Marie Moulin (‘Art and Society’, 11-16); Kathryn B. Hiesinger and Joseph Rishel (‘Art and Its Critics’, 29-34); Geneviève Lacambre and Donald Rosenthal (‘Painting’, 243-7), provide invaluable contextualisation for the study and appreciation of Winterhalter’s works in particular and portraiture in general during the era.

The inclusion of interior studies by Jean-Baptiste-Fortuné de Fournier and Jean Sorieul provide valuable provenance information about Winterhalter’s portraits. A study of jewellery by Gabriel Lemonnier give a valuable historical information on the Imperial Crowns of Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie which can be seen in the portraits by Franz Xaver Winterhalter of 1853 (oil on canvas, destroyed); or the official jewelled insignia of the Imperial ladies-in-waiting, also by Lemonnier, for one can find between the lines an explanation as to why it is not worn by the Empress’s ladies in Winterhalter’s monumental group portrait of 1855 (oil on canvas, Compiègne).

The inclusion in the exhibition of portraits of Napoleon III by Alexandre Cabanel (1865, oil on canvas, Walters Art Gallery) and Hippolyte-Jean Flandrin (c.1860, oil on canvas, Versailles) furnish a valuable comparison of the Emperor’s depiction by Winterhalter; while the examination of Thomas Couture’s unfinished The Baptism of the Prince Imperial (1856-62, oil on canvas, Compiègne) allows for a deeper understanding of the circumstances under which Winterhalter’s portrait of the Empress with the Prince Imperial of 1857 was created (oil on canvas, Private Collection). Another curious inclusion is Paul Baudry’s Portrait of the Son of the Comtesse Swiekowska as the Young Saint John (1860, oil on canvas, Private Collection), inasmuch as, according to my research, the same sitter commissioned portraits of herself and her son from Winterhalter during the 1860s. (Incidentally, Baudry’s portrait was recently sold by Christie’s Paris for €115,000).

494 1854 Eugenie Winterhalter The exhibition included two paintings by Winterhalter, the 1854 portrait of the Empress Eugénie in eighteenth-century dress (oil on canvas, Metropolitan) and the above-mentioned group portrait of the Empress with her ladies-in-waiting. A short biographical article was furnished by Odile Sebastiani, though her three-hundred word entry is rife with inaccuracies. Granted, the exhibition catalogue predates the ground-breaking research on the artist by Dr Armin Panter, Hubert Mayer and the Winterhalter exhibition team, so factual mistakes within such a relatively early publication are almost forgivable.

For example, Sebastiani states “his early life remains a mystery”, “the biographers are not in agreement on the date of his birth”, or that “the chronology of his youth is uncertain” (357). All these inconsistencies were to be righted more than a decade later, in an utmost detail, by Panter and Mayer. Her statement that “portraits of the ducal family of Baden are generally ascribed to the period after his return from Italy” is clearly erroneous and not as readily forgivable, as even the most cursory research would have shown that Winterhalter began his work for the Badenese Grand Ducal family as early as 1828. She further writes that, after leaving France at the time of the 1848 revolution, he did not return until 1853, which is once again highly erroneous, as there is definite evidence that he resumed his portraits practice in Paris late in 1849.

The idea that he was “immediately commissioned to paint the portraits of the Emperor and the Empress” is also erroneous, as there were at least half-a-dozen other artists who were commissioned to paint Napoleon III and Eugénie prior to Winterhalter. But, I fully agree with Sebastiani’s final statement that “today, Winterhalter’s works have acquired the charm of all that conjures up a past period; one cannot deny the extraordinary virtuosity of this artist.”

Odile Sebastiani’s catalogue entry on the 1855 portrait of the Empress with her ladies is quite accurate, and her overarching observation is most apt:  “This work has had a surprising destiny that of being loved at the same time by crowned heads and the masses but rejected by the critics of art” (359). On the other hand, the catalogue entry on the 1854 portrait of the Empress Eugénie in eighteenth-century dress, contributed by Joseph Rishel, suffers from a number of factual mistakes, which I would likewise attribute to the early period of Winterhalter scholarship. Rishel’s statement that “the early history of this charming painting is not known” is erroneous, as the provenance of the portrait is clearly documented; and contrary to his assertion, the portrait was painted prior to the Empress’s appearance in an eighteenth-century dress at a court ball.

Last but not least, the exhibition catalogue has to be commended for the inclusion of the most detailed provenance and bibliographic information with every catalogue entry that would furnish any burgeoning or seasoned researcher with a wealth of primary and early twentieth-century publications on art and its patronage during the Second Empire.

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012.

Do you have any comments, suggestions, or additions to the online Franz Xaver and Hermann Winterhalter Catalogue and these blog entries? Have you heard more news about the works by these artists at auctions and exhibitions? Then do not delay and get in touch!

Catalogue Updates – Works by Franz Xaver Winterhalter 1851-1855

440 51 Coburg WinterhalterWednesday, 27 June 2012 

Catalogue Updates – Works by Franz Xaver Winterhalter 1851-1855 

No 434 – the sitter in the portrait identified as Mathilde Delebecque, Mme Jules Malou (1812-1899) as per the following entry; location of the portrait remains unknown;

NEW ENTRY – NO 434A – M. Jules Malou (1810-1886) – recent research has uncovered that this portrait was exhibited in Brussels in 1889, lent by the sitter’s widow, Mme Malou; further details about the portrait remain unknown;

No 440 – Clothilde Prinzessin von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha – Sold 19th Century European Art Including Ottomans & Orientalists, Christie’s London, 15 Jun 2005, lot 145, sold £54,000;

No 454 – sitter and further details of the artwork identified – Emil Devrient (1803-1872), as Marquis Posa [from Don Carlos (1787) by Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)];

No 483 – Princess Drucka-Lubicka – note added: while further research is required to confirm identity of the sitter, it is more likely to be Maria Szemioth (1833-1897), who m. 1850 Prince Alexander Drucki-Lubecki (1827-1908), rather than Princess Jadwiga Radziwill (1830-1863), who m. 1859 Prince Edwin Drucki-Lubecki (1828-1901).

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012

Catalogue Updates – Works by Franz Xaver Winterhalter 1846-50

350 50 Beaufort WinterhalterWednesday, 27 June 2012 

Catalogue Updates – Works by Franz Xaver Winterhalter 1846-50

No 350 – Duc de Beaufort-Spontin – the portrait was sold at Christie’s Monaco, 3 December 1988, lot 68, $195,322 ; erroneously identified as Portrait en buste d’une petite fille, portent une robe noire à col en dentelle et un chapeau noir à plumes [sic !] ;

No 385 – Baronne Bartholdy – the portrait was sold at Sotheby’s Paris, Tableaux et Dessins du XIXe Siècle, 25 Jun 2008, lot 24, € 312,750 ; erroneously catalogued as Portrait de la Baronne Henri Hottinguer, née Caroline Delessert ;

No 388 – Mme Delessert – sold at Sotheby’s Paris, Tableaux et Dessins du XIXe Siècle, 25 Jun 2008, lot 25; € 90,750.

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012

Portrait of Virginie de Sainte-Aldegonde by Hermann Winterhalter at Christie’s, 1 Feb 2012

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

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