Portrait of Luise Gräfin von Langenstein und Gondelsheim (1826-1900), 1834 (cat. no. 98a) [Part 2]
[Continued from Part 1]
The drawing is closely related to an oil portrait of the same sitter (see cat no 98), though it is debateable whether the drawing served as a study for the portrait. First and foremost, the oil portrait is believed to have been commenced in 1832, but completed, or at the very least, modified by the artist after his return from the two-year study-trip in Italy in the autumn of 1834. [The examination of the signature on the oil portrait suggests an attempt to alter the date ‘1832’ to ‘1834’.] The drawing, on the other hand, is clearly dated as having been done in October of 1834 [It has to be pointed out that while the date is clearly in Winterhalter’s handwriting, the name of the artist may have been inscribed in a different hand.]
The sensation of pure energy and movement in the drawing also relates more strongly to his works post-dating the Italian sojourn, as can be clearly seen when comparing the portrait of Luise with that of her brother, Ludwig, which is signed and dated as having been painted in 1834. While the portrait of Luise is a quintessential exercise in Biedermeier portraiture, the portrait of her brother, allegedly produced two years later, displays the artist’s greater affinity with the Romantic tradition, which developed in his oeuvre following the Italian trip.
It is therefore likely that this sketch was produced at some stage during or after completion of the oil portrait. Winterhalter is known to have painted his portraits a la prima, without preparatory sketches, conveying the sitter’s features in oils directly onto the canvas. Therefore, this drawing may have served either as a study produced by the artist in an effort to inject into the oil portrait of the young countess a greater sense of corporeality, of which the artist became more capable following his studies in Italy. Alternatively, it may have been simply drawn by the artist as a memento of his finished work: in the era, when photography was still very much in its infancy, this was the only way for the artist to retain visual records of his oeuvre.
The portrait drawing, which was initially estimated at € 1,400, was sold for € 9,000, a solid result for a work on paper by this artist.
To be continued… [see Part 3]
© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2014