Portrait of Edward Prinz von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach (1823-1902) (copy) @ Gorringes [Part 2]
[Continued from Part 1]
Winterhalter depicts Prince Edward in a head-and-shoulders format, in half-turn to the right, and facing the viewer. The prince is shown attired very modestly in the portrait, wearing an elaborately tied black silk cravat over a starched white shirt and a simple jacket. However, the simplicity of his garments is very typical of the mid-nineteenth-century style of the upper classes. As I explore in my forthcoming thesis on Winterhalter, following the upheavals of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, scions of royal and aristocratic dynasties broadly adopted sensible, sober, and sombre garments of the middle classes to emphasise their subordination to the services of the country, rather the incident of birth and hereditary privileges.
Prince Edward’s aunt, Queen Adelaide, whose own children died in infancy, lavished all her motherly attention on her nieces and nephews on both sides of the channel. Prince Edward, son of Queen Adelaide’s sister, Ida von Sachsen-Meiningen, Fürstin von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach, was among them. He was born, and spent much of his childhood and youth, in England, becoming a close friend of the Prince of Wales (future Edward VII). In fact, Winterhalter’s original portrait, which is presently in the British Royal Collection, was bequeathed to Edward VII upon the sitter’s death. After becoming a naturalised British citizen in 1841, Prince Edward began to pursue career in the military, and fought valiantly during the Crimean War, during which he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel. From 1855, he became ADC to Queen Victoria. Prince Edward retired from active service in 1890 with the rank of Commander-in-Chief.
To be continued … [see part 3].
© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, 2014