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The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Opening-Day Lecture “Why Winterhalter?”

Sunday, Apr. 17, 2016

03:00 PM – 04:00 PM
US/Central

 Franz X. Winterhalter, Madame Rimsky-Korsakov, 1864, oil on canvas, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, on permanent loan from the Louvre.

Presented by Helga K. Aurisch, curator, European art, and organizing curator of  “High Society: The Portraits of Franz X. Winterhalter”

In 1866, art critic Arthur Stevens wrote of Franz X. Winterhalter, “He specializes in painting the queens and princesses of the whole world; every august head appears to require consecration by Winterhalter’s brush.”

Winterhalter (1805–1873), born and trained in Germany, settled in Paris in 1834 and served as court painter to King Louis-Philippe. Executing more than 140 commissions for the French court, Winterhalter gained such acclaim for his magnificent state portraits that he was soon in demand in most of the capitals of Europe, where his patrons included Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Britain; Leopold I, King of Belgium; Austria's Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth; and the Tsar and Tsarina of Russia.

Why Winterhalter? What was the secret of his success? As Helga K. Aurisch shows in this lecture, Winterhalter was celebrated by both royal and aristocratic sitters not only for his formidable skill as a portraitist who painted wonderful likenesses, but also for his extraordinary ability to infuse those paintings with a lasting image of the splendor that characterized the courts of Europe during their most opulent era.

Image: Franz X. Winterhalter, Madame Rimsky-Korsakov, 1864, oil on canvas, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, on permanent loan from the Louvre.

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