Porträt eines jungen Herren @ Ketterer

Winterhalter 195 Jungen Herren

Porträt eines jungen Herren @ Ketterer

This spirited and lively sketch of a young man with a somewhat surprised and bemused expression on his face, by HERMANN WINTERHALTER, was offered at Ketterer Kunst’s Old Masters & Art of the 19th Century auction, in Munich, 21 Nov 2014, lot 196. Estimated at € 1,000, the drawing was sold for € 1,250 (and went to a very good collection in Germany).

The identity of the sitter remains unknown. The auctioneers dated the drawing from ca. 1870, which means the gentleman in the portrait was most likely a resident of Karlsruhe or Frankfurt-am-Main.

Every time I discover a new work by Hermann Winterhalter, every time I realise more and more what a talented and gifted artist he was in his own right. The drawing has been entered under the provisional no. 195 in Hermann Winterhalter’s catalogue.

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2015.

Portrait of Caroline, Queen of Bavaria (1776-1841), née Prinzessin von Baden (after Joseph Karl Stieler (1781-1858)) [Part IV]

026 25 Karoline Bayern

Portrait of Caroline, Queen of Bavaria (1776-1841), née Prinzessin von Baden (after Joseph Karl Stieler (1781-1858)) [Part IV]

Descendants of Caroline, Queen of Bavaria

(limited to three generations):

Friedricke Caroline Wilhemine Prinzessin von Baden (Karlsruhe 13.07.1776-Munich 13.11.1841), m. Karlsruhe 9.03.1797 (as his second wife), MAXIMILIAN I Maria Michael Johann Baptist Franz von Padua JOSEPH Kaspar Ignatius Johann Nepomuk, Herzog von Pfalz-Zweibrücken (1795), Pfalzgraf von Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld-Bischweiler, Kfst von Bayern und der Pfalz (1799), Pfalzgraf bei Rhein, Herzog von Bayern, König von Bayern (1805) (Mannheim 27.05.1756-Munich 12/13.10.1825), having had issue (and following the five children born of the King’s first marriage):

6. A son, stillborn (5.09.1799)

7. Maximilian Joseph Prinz von Bayern (1800-1803)

8. Elisabeth Louise Prinzessin von Bayern (1801-1873), m. 1823 FRIEDRICH WILHELM IV, King of Prussia (1795-1861) –  s.p.

9. Amalie Auguste Prinzesin von Bayern (1801-1877, twin with no 8), m. 1822 JOHANN I Nepomuk Maria Joseph Anton Xaver Vincenz Aloys Franz de Paula Stanislas Bernhard Paul Feliz Damasus, King of Saxony (1801-1873)

9.1.              Maria Augusta Frederika Carolina Prinzessin von Sachsen (1827-57)

9.2.              Freidrich August ALBERT I Anton Ferdinand Joseph Karl Maria Baptist Nepomuk, King of Saxony (1828-1902), m.1853 Carola Freidericke Franziska Stephanie Amalie Cecile, Princess Vasa, Princess of Sweden (1833-1907) – s.p.

9.3.              Maria Elisabeth Maximiliana Ludvika Amalia Franziska Prinzessin von Sachsen (1830-1912), m.1st 1850 Principe Ferdinando Maria Alberto Amedeo Filiberto Voncenzo di Savoia, Duca di Genoa (1822-1855); m.2nd 1856 Marchese Niccolo Guiseppe Effisio Rapallo (1825-82)

9.3.1.         Margherita Maria Theresa Giovanna di Savoia (1851-1926), m.1868 UMBERTO I Rainiero Carlo Eugenio, King of Italy (1844-assassinated 1900), having had issue.

9.3.2.         Tommaso Alberto Vittorio di Savoia, 2nd Duca di Genoa (1854-1931), m.1883 Maria Elisabetha Louisa Amilia Elvira Prinzessin von Bayern (1863-1924), having had issue.

9.4.              Friedrich August Ernst Ferdinand Wilhelm Ludwig, Prinz von Sachsen (1831-47)

9.5.              Friedrich August GEORG I Ludwig Wilhelm Maximilian Karl, King of Saxony (1832-1904), m.1859 Maria-Anna Fernanda Leopoldina, Infanta of Portugal (1843-84)

9.5.1.         Marie Johanne Amalie Prinzessin von Sachsen (1860-61)

9.5.2.         Elisabeth Albertine Caroline Sidonie Prinzessin von Sachsen (1862-3)

9.5.3.         Mathilde Marie Auguste Prinzessin von Sachsen (1863-1933)

9.5.4.         FRIEDRICH AUGUST III Johann Ludwig Karl, King of Saxony (1865-1932), m.1891 (div.1903) Luise Antonia Maria Theresia Josepha Joahnna, Princess of Tuscany, Archduchess of Austria, Condesa di Montignoso (1870-1947), having had issue.

9.5.5.         Maria-Josepha Louise Philippine Elisabeth Prinzessin von Sachsen (1867-1934), m.1886 Otto, Archduke of Austria (1865-1905), having has issue.

9.5.6.         Johann-Georg Pius Karl Leopold Maria Prinz von Sachsen (1869-1938), m.1st 1894 Maria Isabella Philippine Mathilda Josephina Herzogin von Württemberg (1871-1904); m.2nd 1906 Maria Immaculata Cristina Pia Isabella, Princess of Two Sicilies (1874-1947) – s.p.

9.5.7.         Maximilian Wilhelm August Albert Prinz von Sachsen (1870-1951), ordained as a priest.

9.5.8.         Albert Karl Anton Ludwig Prinz von Sachsen (1875-1900)

9.6.              Maria-Sidonia Ludovica Mathilde Wilhelmina Prinzessin von Sachsen (1834-1862)

9.7.              Anna-Maria Maximiliana Stephania Carolina Johanna Prinzessin von Sachsen (1836-1859), m.1856 as his 1st wife, FERDINANDO IV Salvato Maria Joseph, Grand Duke of Tuscany, Archduke of Austria (1835-1908)

9.7.1.         Marie Antoinetta Leopoldine Annonziata Anna, Princess of Tuscany, Archduchess of Austria (1858-83)

9.8.              Margareta Carolina Fredericka Cecilie Augusta, Prinzessin von Sachsen (1840-58), m.1856, as his 1st wife, Karl-Ludwig Joseph Maria, Archduke of Austria (1833-1896) – s.p.

9.9.              Sophia Maria Friedericke Auguste Leopoldine Alexandrine Ernestine Prinzessin von Sachsen (1845-1867), m.1865, as his 1st wife, Karl Theodore, Herzog im Bayern (1839-1909) – [see 12.5. below]

10.  Friedericke Sophie Dorothea Wilhelmina Prinzessin von Bayern (1805-1872), m. 1824 Franz Karl Joseph, Archduke of Austria (1802-1872) – SEE THE SEPARATE FORTHCOMING ENTRY ON SOPHIE, ARCHDUCHESS OF AUSTRIA.

11. Marie Anne Leopoldine Elisabeth Wilhemine Prinzessin von Bayern (1805-1877, twin with NO. 10), m.1833, as his 2nd wife FRIEDRICH AUGUSTUS II Albert Maria Clemens Joseph Vincenz Aloys Nepomuk Johann Baptista Nikolaus Raphael Peter Xavier Franz de Paula Venantius Feliz, King of Saxony (1797 – carriage accident 1854) – s.p.

12. Ludovika (Luise) Wilhemina Prinzessin von Bayern (1808-1892), m. 1828 MAXIMILIAN JOSEPH, Herzog im Bayern (1808-1888)

12.1.           Ludwig Wilhelm Herzog im Bayern, m.1st (morganatically) 1857 Henriette Mendel, cr. Freiherrin von Wallersee (1833-91); m.2nd 1892 (div.1913) Antonie Barth, cr. Frau von Bartolf (1871-1956)

12.1.1.      Freiin Marie von Wallersee (1858-1940), m.1st 1877 (div.1896) Georg Graf Larrisch von Moennich (1855-1928); m.2nd 1897 Otto Brucks (1854-1914); m.3rd 1924 (div.1928) William H. Mayers (1859-19**), havin had issue.

12.1.2.      Karl Emanuel Freiherr von Wallersee (b.&d. 1859)

12.2.           Wilhelm Herzog im Bayern (1832-33)

12.3.           Caroline Therese Helene Herzogin im Bayern (1834-1890), m. 1858 Maximilian Anton Lamoral Erbprinz von Thurn und Taxis (1831-1867)

12.3.1.      Louise Mathilde Wilhelmine Marie Maximiliane, Prinzessin von Thurn und Taxis (1859-1948), m. 1879 Frederick Eugène Johann, Prinz von Hohenzollern-Sigmarinen (1843-1904) – s.p.

12.3.2.      Maximilian, 7th Fürst von Thurn und Taxis (1862-1885)

12.3.3.      Albrecht Marie Joseph Maximilian Lamoral, 8th Fürst von Thurn und Taxis (1867-1952), m. 1890 Margarite Clementine Marie, Archduchess of Austria (1870-1955), having had issue.

12.3.4.      Elisabeth Marie Maximiliane Prinzessin von Thurn und Taxis (1860-1881), m.1877, as his 1st wife MIGUEL II Maria Carlos Edigio Constantino Gabriel Raphael Gonzago Francisco de Paula e de Assis Januario, Duke de Braganza, pretender to the Throne of Portugal (1853-1927), having had issue.

12.4.           Elisabeth Amalie Eugénie Herzogin im Bayern (1837-ass.1898), m.1854 Franz Joseph I Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary (1830-1916)

12.4.1.      Sophie Friederike Dorothea Maria Josepha, Archduchess of Austria, Princess of Hungary (1855-57)

12.4.2.      Gisela Louise Marie, Archduchess of Austria, Princess of Hungary (1856-1932); m.1875 Leopold Prinz von Bayern (1846-1930), having had issue.

12.4.3.      RUDOLF Franz Karl Joseph, Crown Prince of Austria (1858-suicide 1889), m. 1881 Princess Stephanie of Belgium (1864-1945), having had issue.

12.4.4.      Marie-Valerie Mathilde Amalie, Archduchess of Austria, Princess of Hungary (1868-1924), m.1890 Franz Salvator, Archduke of Austria (1866-1939), having had issue.

12.5.           Karl Theodor, Herzog im Bayern (1839-1909), m.1st 1865 Sophie Marie Fredericke Augustine, Prinzessin von Sachsen (1845-67); m.2ndly 1874 Maria-Josepha Beatrice Joanna, Infanta of Portugal (1857-1943)

12.5.1.      Amalia Maria, Herzogin im Bayern (1865-1912), m.1892, as his 1st wife Wilhelm Karl Florestan Gero Crescentius, 2nd Fürst von Urach, Graf von Württemburg (1864-1928), having had issue.

12.5.2.      Sophie Adelheid Ludovika Maria, Herzogin von Bayern (1875-1957), m.1898 Hans-Veit Maximillian Gaspar, Graf zu Toerring-Jettenbach (1862-1929), havin had issue.

12.5.3.      Elisabeth Gabrielle Valerie Maria, Herzogin von Bayern (1876-1965), m. 1900 ALBERT I, King of the Belgians (1875-1934), having had issue.

12.5.4.      Marie-Gabrielle Mathilda Isabella Therese, Herzogin von Bayern (1878-1912), m.1900, as his 1st  wife, Rupprecht, Erb-Prinz von Bayern (1869-1955), having had issue.

12.5.5.      Ludwig-Wilhelm Karl Norbert, Herzog im Bayern, Head of the Ducal House of Bavaria (1884-1968), m.1917 Eleonora Anna Lucia, Fürstin von Schönburg-Waldenburg, née Prinzessin zu Sayn-Wittegenstein-Berleburg (1880-1965) – s.p.

12.5.6.      Franz-Joseph Michael Karl, Herzog im Bayern (1888-1912)

12.6.           Marie-Sophie Amalie Herzogin im Bayern (1841-1925), m.1850 FRANCESCO II, King of the Two Siclies (1836-94)

12.6.1.      Cristina Pia Maria Anna Isabella di Borbone, Princes of Two Siclies (1869-1870)

12.7.           Mathilde Ludovika, Herzogin von Bayern (1843-1925), m.1861 Lodovico Maria di Borbone, Conte di Trani (1838-86)

12.7.1.      Maria-Theresa Magdalena di Borbone, Princess of the Two Sicilies (1867-1909), m.1889, as his 1st wife, Wilhelm August Karl, Prinz von Hohenzollern (1864-1927), having had issue.

12.8.           Sophie Charlotte Augustine Herzogin im Bayern (1847-acc.1897), m.1868 HRH Prince Ferdinand Philippe Marie d’Orléans, Duc d’Alençon (1844-1910)

12.8.1.      Princesse Louise Victoire Marie Amélie Sophie d’Orléans (1869-1952), m. 1891 Alfons Maria Franz von Assisi Klemens Max Emmanuel Prinz von Bayern (1862-1933), having had issue.

12.8.2.      Prince Philippe Emmanuel Maximilien Marie Eudes d’Orléans, Duc de Vendôme et d’Alençon (1872-1931), m. 1896 Henriette Marie Charlotte Antoinette, Princesse de Belgique (1870-1948), having had issue.

12.9.           Maximilian Emmanuel Herzog im Bayern (1849-1893), m.1875 Marie Luise Franziska Amalie, Prinzessin von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, Herzogin von Sachsen (1848-1894) – s.p.

13. Maximiliana Josepha Karolina Prinzessin von Bayern (21.07.1810 – 4.02.1821)

I acknowledge the use of http://www.angelfire.com/realm/gotha/gotha/gotha.htm and http://genealogy.euweb.cz/ in compilation of this information.

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2013.

Portrait of Caroline, Queen of Bavaria (1776-1841), née Prinzessin von Baden (after Joseph Karl Stieler (1781-1858)) [Part III]

026 25 Karoline Bayern

Portrait of Caroline, Queen of Bavaria (1776-1841), née Prinzessin von Baden (after Joseph Karl Stieler (1781-1858)) [Part III]

As per my previous posts, I would like to share my interest in genealogical research of Winterhalter’s sitters. So, the ancestry of Caroline, Queen of Bavaria (limited to the first three generations), is:

Queen Caroline of Bavaria, née Prinzessin von Baden (Karlsruhe 13.07.1776-Münich 13.11.1841)

  1. Karl Ludwig Erbprinz von Baden (1755-1801), m. 1774
  2. Friederike Amalie Langräfin von Hessen-Darmstadt (1754-1832)
  3. Karl Friedrich, Markgraf von Baden-Durlach (1738), Markgraf von Baden (1771), Elector of Baden (1803), Grand Duke of Baden (1806) (1728-1811), m.1st 1751
  4. Karoline Luise Landgräfin von Hessen-Darmstadt (1723-1783, sister of no. 6)
  5. Ludwig IX Landgraf von Hessen-Damrstadt (1719-1790, brother of no. 5), m.1st 1741
  6. Karoline Henriette Christine Pfalzgrafin von Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld (1721-1774)
  7. Friedrich Erbprinz von Baden (1703-1732), m. 1727
  8. Anna Charlotte Amalie Prinzessin von Nassau-Dietz-Orange (1710-1777)
  9. Ludwig VIII Landgraf von Hessen-Darmstadt (1739) (1691-1768), m. 1717
  10. Charlotte Christine Magdalene Johanna Grafin von Hanau-Lichtenberg (1700-1726)
  11. => no. 9
  12. => no. 10
  13. Christian III von Bayern, Pfalzgraf von Birkenfeld, Bischweiler und Rappolstein (1717), Herzog von Zweibrücken (1731) (Strassburg 7.11.1674-Zweibrücken 3.02.1735, same as her husband’s no 4), m. Schloss Lorentzen bei Saarwerden 21.09. 1719
  14. Karoline Gräfin von Nassau-Saarbrücken (Saarbrücken 12.08.1704-Darmstadt 25.03.1774 same as her husband’s no 5)

I acknowledge the use of http://genealogy.euweb.cz/ in compilation of this information.

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2013.

Portrait of Caroline, Queen of Bavaria (1776-1841), née Prinzessin von Baden (after Joseph Karl Stieler (1781-1858)) [Part II]

026 25 Karoline Bayern

Portrait of Caroline, Queen of Bavaria (1776-1841), née Prinzessin von Baden (after Joseph Karl Stieler (1781-1858)) [Part II]

Caroline, Queen of Bavaria (1776-1841), born Princess of Baden, married the widowed Maximilian I Joseph in 1797, becoming a devoted mother to his four (surviving) children, and between 1799 and 1810 giving birth to eight more (including two sets of twins). Apart from raising, educating and finding brilliant matches for her and her husband’s numerous off-spring, Caroline immersed herself in charitable work and women’s welfare, and, as the first Protestant Queen of Bavaria, promoted religious tolerance. Fine arts were especially close to her heart: she was instructed in painting by Philipp Jakob Becker (1763-1829); kept Joseph Stieler busy with the constant supply of family portrait commissions; and for each of her daughters compiled landscape albums with works by Bavarian artists as wedding gifts.  She took a special interest in supporting female artists, and among those who received the highest patronage were portrait and miniature painter Margarete Geiger (1783-1809); her sister, illustrator and tapestry artist Katharina Sattler (1789-1861); and lithographic and drawing artist Marie Electrine Freifrau von Freyberg (1797-1847).

Just like with the portrait of her husband, Maximilian I Joseph, King of Bavaria, Franz Xaver Winterhalter’s lithographic portrait of the Queen, based on a portrait of Joseph Stieler, emphasises the civic virtues of the monarch’s spouse, rather than the privileged accident of birth. A ubiquitous evening gown and crown jewels are replaced here with a day dress, showing the Queen’s readiness to attend to her duties as the premier patron of charitable and benevolent institutions of her adopted nation.

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2013.

Portrait of Caroline, Queen of Bavaria (1776-1841), née Prinzessin von Baden (after Joseph Karl Stieler (1781-1858)) [Part I]

026 25 Karoline Bayern

Portrait of Caroline, Queen of Bavaria (1776-1841), née Prinzessin von Baden (after Joseph Karl Stieler (1781-1858)) [Part I]

Winterhalter also produced a lithograph after Stieler’s portrait of Caroline, Queen of Bavaria (1776-1841), née Prinzessin von Baden, the second wife of Maximilian I Joseph, King of Bavaria.

As I am stating in my forthcoming PhD dissertation on the artist, just like the portrait of the King, the portrait of the Queen of Bavaria is similarly understated, “unburdened by the signifiers of the sitter’s royal status.”

“No jewels or extraneous decorations are worn. Instead, the Queen is dressed simply, but at the height of fashion. A tight velvet bodice with starched lace frills is partly covered by a luxurious fur pelt; elaborately curled hairstyle is covered by a beret with an extravagantly oversize ostrich plume.”

The original portrait once again remains untraced, and it is most likely that Joseph Stieler may have prepared a portrait sketch of the Queen, in pencil and ink wash, now lost, especially for the purpose of it being lithographed by Winterhalter.

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2013.

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

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.

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

025 25 Maximilian

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

While in Munich, I was also able to augment my research on Winterhalter’s lithographic portraits after Joseph Karl Stieler (1781-1858), beginning with the portrait of Maximilian I Joseph, King of Bavaria (1781-1858) (see cat. no. 25).

As I am stating in my forthcoming PhD dissertation on the artist, Winterhalter’s lithographs after Stieler “are the very first recorded and extant examples of royal portraits in Winterhalter’s oeuvre”. All of Winterhalter’s lithographic portraits after Stieler are re-imagined as “half-length ovals, recreating the feel and style of intimate rococo miniatures, visually and psychologically endearing the subjects to the beholder.”

I always found this portrait of Maximilian I Joseph to be one of the most sympathetic renderings of the aged Bavarian monarch. As I write, “the king’s garments consist of a simple shirt and cravat, a vest, and a jacket, the top buttons of which are undone, struggling to contain the king’s expanding frame. No crown burdens his brow, and the humble row of military and honorary badges on his lapel is the only status signifier of the monarch.”

The original portrait remains untraced, and it is most likely that Winterhalter’s lithograph represents an amalgamation of several portraits of the Bavarian monarch by Joseph Stieler.

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2013.

Portrait of François Bouchot (1800-1842) [Part II]

191a 41 Bouchot print

Portrait of François Bouchot (1800-1842) [Part II]


François Bouchot (Paris 29 Nov 1800 – Paris 7 Feb 1842), late Neo-Classical and Romantic painter and engraver, initially followed in his father’s footsteps and, from the age of 12, apprenticed in engraving at the studio of Théodore Richomme. He later decided to pursue artistic career, and studied under Jean-Baptiste Regnault and Guillaume Lethière.

During his studies at the École des Beaux-Arts, he obtained numerous prizes for figure drawings (1821); prix de torse (1822); prix de tête d’expression (1823); and in 1823 he won the prestigious Grand Prix de Rome. After a seven-year-sojourn in Italy, success and recognition followed upon his return to Paris, with the artist receiving the Legion d’Honneur in 1835.

Today, Bouchot is best known for his large-scale tableaux on mythological and religious subject matter, historical scenes from the reign and campaigns of Napoleon I, and his portraits of celebrated opera singers of the day, including Maria Malibran; Julia Grisi; and Luigi Lablache, who later became his father-in-law.

His works are to be found in the collections of the Louvre and Versailles; Musée de la Vie Romantique in Paris; municipal museums of Lille and Chartres; Royal Academy of Music in London, and other public and private collections.

François Bouchot married Francesca Lablache (1816-1895), who counted Stendhal and Henri Lehmann among her admirers. After Bouchot’s death, she married the composer Sigismund Thalberg.


© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2013.

Portrait of François Bouchot (1800-1842) [Part I]

191a 41 Bouchot print

Portrait of François Bouchot (1800-1842) [Part I]

Another little treasure in the collection of the Munich’s Staatliche Graphische Sammlung is Winterhalter’s Portrait of François Bouchot (1800-1842) (1841, pencil on paper, 13.7 x 12.2 cm, Inv. No. 1940:12). Once again, I promised not to reproduce the actual drawing, so I am showing a lithograph by Emile Lassalle, courtesy of http://www.portraitindex.de/.

The portrait shows the forty-one-year-old artist at bust length, at full face, gazing at the viewer, his forehead resting on the palm of his left hand.

Drawn on 29 September 1841, the artist’s appearance, with a tired gaunt face and prominent shadows under his eyes, correspond with the contemporary descriptions of Bouchet during the last few months of his life.


© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2013.

Portrait of Wilhelm Urban (1795-1833), 1829 [Part II]

028b 29 Urban print

Portrait of Wilhelm Urban (1795-1833), 1829 [Part II]

Winterhalter depicts Wilhelm Urban wearing a plaid scarf, which looks rather Scottish. The reasons for this might be found in the sitter’s biography.

Wilhelm Urban (Munich 6.01.1795 – Munich 28.02.1833), Bavarian actor and playwright, was considered to be one of the finest performers to grace the stage of the Munich’s Hoftheater. He debuted around 1812 at the Bamberg Theatre, but returned the following year to Munich to perform at the Isartortheater. His debut as Fridolin, in an eponymous play by Holbein, at the Munich Hoftheater the same year landed him a contract with the court troupe, with which he would remain for the next twenty years. He was described by his contemporaries as being small of stature, but having the ability to charm everyone with his good looks, dark eyes, and melodic voice.

Urban favoured plays by the great masters, delivered both tragic and comedic roles with a great aplomb, and his performances were distinguished by the serious approach of his acting methodology, depth of emotional feeling, and great conviction in the overall delivery of his lines. His greatest acting roles were in the plays of Goethe and Shakespeare, and his appearances on the stages of Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, and Vienna extended his fame beyond Bavarian borders. Urban also tried his hand in writing and poetry, as well as stage direction.

Urban died after a long illness at the age of 38, survived by his widow and eight children.

Every biographer, and every contemporary, mentions without fail that his performance in the title of role of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and his delivery of the celebrated soliloquy “Sein oder Nichtsein” remained unequalled on the Munich stage. It is therefore possible that the ‘Scottish touch’ in Winterhalter’s portrait of Wilhelm Urban refers to the celebrated ‘Scottish Play’ in which Urban so universally excelled.


© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2013.