"Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn"
By Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1843
Franz Xaver Winterhalter was born of peasant stock, in Mensenschwad, a small village in Germany's Black Forest. His early training, as an apprentice in a studio in Freiburg, began when he was thirteen. He learned engraving and he supported himself as a lithographer, while he studied painting in Munich (nga, par.1). Even though he is known to be an academic painter, this seems to be a contradiction, as Webster's Dictionary states that an academic painter followed rules and conventions, while a painter from the Romantic Movement broke away from convention and painted more by feeling and freedom of form, which is what Winterhalter did. According to Britannica Biography Collection on EBSCOhost, Winterhalter was hired as the drawing master to the Grand Duchess of Baden in 1828, which first entered him into court circles. Around 1835 he went to Paris and was appointed as court painter, first to King Louis-Philippe, and then to Napoleon III, where he painted portraits of the royal families and leading members of the court. In Franz Xaver Winterhalter and the Courts of Europe 1830-70, Richard Ormond says, "No portrait painter has ever enjoyed such extensive Royal patronage as Winterhalter." During his career, he painted the royal families of Belgium, France, England, and most of Europe's leading aristocracy. His first trip to England to paint Queen Victoria was in 1842. He returned several times to paint the growing royal family, doing at least 120 works for them (abcgallery, par.1). One of these, a private painting commissioned by Queen Victoria, was to be given to Prince Albert as a birthday present. She wanted her pure femininity to show through in this picture, so she was depicted in common clothing, with a sultry look, lounging against a red pillow, with her hair loose and no reference to her royal position. The prince reportedly loved the "secret painting",...
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