Some glorious froth today from Franz Xavier Winterhalter.
First, a wonderfully siren-like pose for Leonilla Bariantinskaya, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, one of his favourite sitters. Winterhalter took her likeness more than once in the 1840s, a pointed tribute as his waiting list could be up to 2 years long.
Leonilla seems to have had a fascinating life and died just short of 102 in 1918. This portrait is from 1843, and you can still see the afterglow of the Romantics in Italy and Turner. This is the world of Mendelssohn and early Schumann that shaped Queen Victoria’s sensibilities and Winterhalter was in fact a favourite painter of Victoria and Albert.
The world of the Regency, with neat buns and cashmere shawls, is even closer in this portrait of Madame Ackermann from 1837, although the placement of the ring on her right hand is rather modern.
This is a generation on, the empresses Eugenie (1854) and Maria Alexandrovna (1857) . The style is both fussier and quieter, more domestic and less sultry. Note the softer background colours too.
Finally, in the 1860s, dark beauties are back in fashion again, but the style is resolutely girlish rather than seductive. There are no traces of Madame Ackermann’s wary shrewdness in these faces.
Adeline Patti (an opera singer); Carmen, Duchesse du Montmorency; both 1860.