Franz Xaver Winterhalter

Franz Xaver Winterhalter ( born April 20, 1805 in Menzenschwand in the Black Forest; † July 8th, 1873 in Frankfurt am Main ) was a German portrait painter and lithographer.


Winterhalter was one of nine children, of whom only five survived infancy. After visiting the monastery school of the Benedictine monastery of St. Blaise, he learned from 1818 to 1824 at the Herder 's Art Institute in Freiburg, the profession of the lithographer.

With a scholarship, he studied then at the Munich Art Academy painting. During this time, Winterhalter, whose brother Hermann Fidel Winterhalter (1808-1891) was also successful as a painter worked in the studio of the portrait painter Joseph Karl Stieler and was incidentally worked as a lithographer. After graduating in 1828 he went to Karlsruhe, where he found employment as an art teacher Margravine of Baden and created portraits of the Grand Ducal family.

From 1833 to 1834 he traveled to Italy, where he founded the studio with Johann Baptist Kriner shared. Mainly romantic genre scenes were filmed in the style of Louis Léopold Robert. In Rome, he joined a circle of French artists. After his return he was appointed in Karlsruhe by Grand Duke Leopold of Baden court painter in 1834, but left a short time later the grand ducal court to move to Paris. Here he attracted in the salons of 1836 and 1838 with Italian genre scenes attention.

By Patronage King Louis Philippe Winterhalter rose in France most sought-after portrait painter. As a French court painter, he painted portraits of the entire royal family and the leading members of the court. The success of these pictures earned him the reputation of a professional for aristocratic portraits, so he received commissions from European nobility and many dynasties. Queen Victoria appointed him in 1841 to the British court.

In 1852 he was appointed by Queen Isabella to Spain. After the accession of Napoleon III. he went back to Paris. His clients also included the Belgian royal family and the imperial courts in St Petersburg and Vienna. The portraits of the Austrian Empress Elisabeth is among his best known works. In addition to individual portraits created group pictures, taking his compositions always freer and his painting fanned himself.

Franz Xaver Winterhalter died at 68 years, during a stay in Frankfurt am Main from typhoid fever. He is buried at the local main cemetery.


During his lifetime called him by his contemporaries, some appreciative, partly driven by envy, the " prince of painters ". His clients were almost always protagonists of the European aristocracy from Lisbon to Moscow, from the Baron to the emperor. Winterhalter's portraits were prized for their subtle intimacy, its ability to create a wish of the people portrayed image, certainly contributed to its popularity. He combined the likeness of the sitter with flattery and put courtly splendor with the current fashion of his time dar. He managed to capture the social and political climate of each court and adapt his style to each client. His official Hofporträts served the self-representation of the monarchies and were used specifically for public relations. To satisfy the growing demand for portraits, many of which originated in different versions, Winterhalter maintained a large studio with numerous assistants. Moreover found his work by means of lithographic reproduction of a large audience.

The portraits of Winterhalter's were so popular that he was often tasked to make multiple copies of a single piece. Above all, a greater number of state portraits was very popular, not least to show in ministries and government offices commanding presence. So alone emerged from the state portrait of Napoleon III. six known versions. These replicas were partly produced by Franz Xaver Winterhalter itself, often it was also his brother Hermann, who made such copies. The brush stitch the two brothers is almost identical, so that today it is difficult to determine with certainty from whom the two artists each replica comes. A closer look at the portraits and the copies to sometimes is also striking that the facial features and the physiognomy of the people depicted are painted subtle and finer lot than the rest of the body and the background. This phenomenon is known in European art history: Often it was the master himself, painted the head and face, while he, so the journeymen and assistants, leaving the rest of his workshop.


Queen Victoria of Great Britain, in whose collection there were over 100 of his paintings, wrote after his death to her daughter Vicky in Berlin: " This death is terrible, irreparable [ ... ]. But his work will compete in later times with those of van Dyck. "Even though this classification is not shared more than a century later by art historians, his paintings are considered to be the mirror image of the ruling class in the middle of the 19th century. Of the erupting in France in painting new currents such as the Barbizon school or the beginning of the impressionism largely unimpressed, remained his works, though technically a very high level, for subsequent generations of artists without significant influence.

Up to 371,000 U.S. dollars today to be paid for oil painting by Winterhalter on the art market.

In 2008, an association was founded in Winterhalter's hometown Menzenschwand which there runs the museum Le Petit Salon. It is to honor the life's work of the two Winterhalter brothers.


  • 2014: Prince painters, along with pictures of Franz Spranger and Heinrich von Angeli in pheasant castle near Fulda.

Works (selection)

Grand Duchess Sophie of Baden ( 1830)

Italian genre scene ( 1833)

Leopold I of Belgium (1840 )

Queen Marie Christine of Spain ( about 1841)

Louise d' Orléans ( about 1841)

King Louis- Philippe ( 1841)

Queen Marie Amelie (1842 )

Leonilla Princess of Sayn -Wittgenstein- Sayn (1843 )

Maria Carolina Augusta of Naples and Sicily (1846 )

Maximilian of Austria ( 2nd half of 19th century)

Emperor Napoleon III. (1855 )

Empress Eugénie of France with her ​​ladies, (1855 )

Grand Duchess Olga (1856 )

Varvara Rimsky -Korsakov (1858 )

Charlotte of Belgium (1864 )

Elisabeth of Austria (1865 )

Franz Joseph I (1865 )

Queen Olga (1865 )

Queen Victoria in Coronation Robes ( 1870 )