February 23, 2015 § Leave a comment
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.
January 15, 2014 § Leave a comment
Portrait of Luise Gräfin von Langenstein und Gondelsheim (1826-1900), 1834 (cat. no. 98a) [Part 3]
[Continued from Part 2]
The identity of the sitter in the portrait is as remarkable as the drawing itself. Luise was a daughter of Fräulein Katharina Werner (1799-1850), a rising teenage star of the Grand Ducal Court Theatre in Karlsruhe, who at the age of sixteen, attracted the eye of Ludwig I, Grand Duke of Baden (1763-1830). Despite the 53 year difference between the two, Katharina became the Grand Duke’s mistress. Three children were born to the Grand Duke and Fräulein Werner. Although it has not been established whether any kind of a marriage ceremony took place, Ludwig I officially recognised their children. Wishing to secure their future, he established a family trust, and acquired a number of income-yielding farming and rental landholdings and properties across southern Germany. In 1827 he ennobled Katharina and her children, raising them to the comital status, and deriving their new surname from imposing castles on two of their properties, Langenstein and Gondelsheim.
The couple’s eldest daughter, also called Luise, died in 1821 before the age of three. Their only son, Ludwig Graf von Langenstein und Gondelsheim (1820-72), never married, and upon his death Luise became the sole heiress of the family fortunes. In 1848 she married Karl Graf Douglas (1824-98), a scion of the prominent Scottish-Swedish dynasty. Six children were born to the couple, who during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries occupied prominent positions in European political, military, diplomatic, and social circles. Apart from the present members of the Douglas family, Luise’s descendants today include the heads of the Bavarian, Fouche d’Otrante, Hesse, Marlborough, Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berlerburg, Solms-Hohensolms-Lich, and Solms-Laubach dynasties.
To be continued… [see Part 4]
© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2014
January 14, 2014 § Leave a comment
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
January 13, 2014 § Leave a comment
Portrait of Luise Gräfin von Langenstein und Gondelsheim (1826-1900), 1834 (cat. no. 98a) [Part 1]
The previous posts reminded me of another charming portrait of a child by Franz Xaver Winterhalter: Portrait of Luise Gräfin von Langenstein und Gondelsheim (1826-1900) (1834, pencil on paper, 13.8 x 12.1 cm), which appeared at Kaupp’s Herbstauktionen, in Salzburg, on 5 October 2013, lot 4542. The portrait shows a young girl, seated at half-length, in profile to the left, but turning her head sharply towards the viewer. The drawing is remarkable for its spirit and energy. It is filled with the restless movement, relating to us the challenges faced by every artist engaged upon a child’s portrait.
The sketch is quite remarkable as a revelation of Winterhalter’s working techniques and artistic abilities. The face of the child if fully realised, making this living, breathing individual almost jump forth from the surface of the drawing, while her hands, details of the dress, and a chair on which the girl is sitting are only hinted at in rapid outlines. The juxtaposition between the finished head of the girl and the abstract rendition of other details within the drawing clearly shows what a truly gifted artist is capable of achieving on a flat, two-dimensional piece of paper.
The drawing also shows the strong academic acumen of the artist, who bases the composition of the work on two prominent intersecting diagonals, one of which crosses through the curls on the girl’s forehead, passes below her ears, along the back of her blouse and skirt. The opposing diagonal can be also perceived descending along the right-hand-side of the sitter’s face, the hands, and the folds of the fabric below. By shifting the geometrical pivot of the composition just ever though slightly to the left, the artist attains a greater sensation of movement within the rapidly-sketched work.
To be continued… [see Part 2]
© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2014