Architect Karl Josef Berckmüller, 1830 (cat. no. 43)

Winterhalter 043 1830 Berckmuller

Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-1873)

Portrait of Karl Josef Berckmüller (1800-79)

 1830, Munich, oil on canvas; 96 x 72.3 cms;  Musée de Picardie, Amiens

Winterhalter’s portrait of Karl Josef Berckmüller (1800-79) was exhibited at the 1987/88 Winterhalter exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London and Petit Palais in Paris. Carol Blackett-Ord wrote in the exhibition catalogue regarding this portrait (p. 174):

“The architect is poised, as if explaining a point on the plan before him, with his head turned to the right. The attributes of his profession, a ground plan and a set of callipers, are in front of him, but attention is focused upon a fine study of his hands. The diagonals of the crossed hands are echoed in the sitter’s splayed open collar. An atypical form of signature, with Roman letters and numerals, appear as though carved into the architectural background. There are good grounds for identifying the sitter in the portrait as Winterhalter’s close friend, Karl Josef Berckmüller. He had qualified as an architect the previous year, and had further established himself by marrying the daughter of Baron von Eichthal, Winterhalter’s great benefactor. The picture appears to be the Portrait of a Man, shown at the Public Art Exhibition at Karlsruhe in May 1832 (no. 82). It received qualified praise in Kunstblatt, 11 October 1832 : “The artist has reproduced here, as it were alla prima, the firm features of a handsome male face with great boldness and assurance. The likeness is so vivid that one believes one is seeing the original. With this portrait as in all Mr Winterhalter’s portraits, one must acknowledge his great talent for portraiture; but we cannot fail to comment adversely on the fact that this hasty manner of painting is unworthy of the great talent we have praised.” ”

Philip Mansel added the following biographical note on the sitter (ibid.): “Karl Josef Berckmüller (1800-79) was the son of a prominent builder of Karlsruhe, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Baden. He was, himself, to become a government architect. One of his most important works was the building to house the Grand Ducal Collections on the Friedrichsplatz in Karlsruhe.”

© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012.

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