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“The Princess Leonilla” a Portrait by Franz Winterhalter Research Paper


A substantial societal change happened within a single age group after the French Revolution of 1789. Europe was stunned by political catastrophes, revolts, and hostilities. When the privileged met with the intention of restructuring European affairs, it became understood that the peoples’ expectations for freedom and fairness had not been apprehended. Nevertheless, all through the course of those restless years, innovative designs and attitudes had lodged in the heads of men.


Admiration of the individual, the accountable person, which was previously a crucial component in Neoclassical painting, had intensified the change for a newfangled but associated phenomenon – emotive perception. Therefore, calm and balanced formal elements of Neoclassicism were now opposed to sentiment and the individual’s imagination which derived from it. As an alternative to flattering the Neoclassicist impassiveness and rational discipline of the person, artists now correspondingly started to get used to the role of rejoicing the emotive perception and observing the individual’s exquisiteness, which was called Romanticism.

Accordingly, an assortment of styles began to develop, and all of them were consistent with the caption of Romanticism. In addition, each of the styles was formed by national features. The crusade initiated in Germany where it was inspired mainly by an impression of world exhaustion, a sense of loneliness, and a longing for nature. Well along, Romantic inclinations correspondingly reflected in French and English painting.

In the 19th century, German artists encompassed painters as versatile as Franz Winterhalter, a renowned portrait painter who appreciated the benefaction of European royal families (“World and Its Peoples” 366). After much effort and time, Winterhalter was recognized as a portrait painter in times of the Second Empire, and he created his best work throughout the course of the last twenty years of his life.

He harmonized his style in the correspondence with the extravagance and tranquil atmosphere of the era, its high-living, and jollity. Winterhalter’s paintings all share one thing – the absence of defects. It is this style of performance that made him one of the court portraitists that were sought after the most. The women he painted throughout the second half of the 19th century differ crucially in a physical sense from those he painted before as they were not cagy or behaving stiffly.

The men posing for Winterhalter encouraged limited innovative or outstanding compositions. Winterhalter has never been critically acclaimed for his work, being repetitively blamed for shallowness and pretentiousness in search of approval. Nevertheless, he was extremely respected by his blue-blooded clientele. The royal families from all over Europe all stood in the queue to Winterhalter. His colossal paintings established a significant widespread status, and the reproductions of the portraits helped out to feast his reputation. Winterhalter’s portraits were valued for their delicate intimacy, and the origin of his plea is not hard to explicate.

He shaped the image his clients wanted or needed to show to their admirers. Winterhalter was not only an expert at producing practically dramatic arrangements but was also brilliant in the art of transmitting the feel of cloth and jewels. He paid to these details just as much attention as he did to the face. Winterhalter painted very quickly and very confidently, manipulating most of his paintings right in the canvas.

His portraits are stylish, polished, realistic, and pleasingly flawless. Relating to Winterhalter’s technique of painting, it is believed that he painted straight onto the canvas, not bothering himself with making any introductory studies. His style was smooth, diverse, and credible. Almost all of his portraits were copied in his shop or replicated as lithographs.

Recognized for her great attractiveness and intelligence, Princess Leonilla was the focus of quite a few portraits by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. The most well-known of these is the one that is presently in Los Angeles, at the J. Paul Getty Museum. The date when the portrait was painted, 1843, can be seen in the column on the right-hand side. Winterhalter volunteered for an audacious portrait, uncommon for his works, both in origin and presentation.

Princess Leonilla is shown lying down on a little Turkish couch on a terrace overseeing a luxurious tropical scenery, probably the Wittgenstein fortress in the Crimea, even supposing that the portrait was created in Paris. Her position is a meaningful delivery of harem scenes. The Princess has on her an expensive robe of ivory silk with a pink ribbon on her waist. A deep purple covering shawls around her posterior and cascades across her arms.

She looks languorously at the spectator while she lazily plays with the big pearls around her neckline, strengthening the corporeality of the model. Winterhalter compared the extravagant materials and intense colors to the Princess’s alabaster skin to intensify the privacy of the pose, Leonilla herself, and the lush background. An important notice might be the fact that Winterhalter was most likely in love with Princess Leonilla, and this might have had a major impact on the painting and the consecutive change in the way he draws his subsequent pictures.

When it comes to the art of Modernist portrait painting, Matisse is usually looked upon, along with Picasso and Duchamp, as one of the artists who helped out to outline the innovative expansions in the arts during the first twenty years of the twentieth century, accountable for noteworthy changes in painting. Throughout the Modernism period in the history of the twentieth century, Henri Matisse is a peaceful and irresistible uprising of artistic virtuoso (Ingram 4).

Even though he and his works were at first characterized as rough artistry, by the third decade of the 20th century, he was more and more addressed as a proud supporter of the orthodox institution in French painting. His exceptional skill of the communicative dialect of color and illustration, demonstrated in an array of masterpieces straddling over fifty years, gained him acknowledgment as an important artist in contemporary art.


Both Winterhalter and Matisse are united by the image they present in their paintings using vivid colors and an extraordinary sense of lighting and exposure. The dramatically presented contents of the paintings are also a distinctive feature of these two artists, as Winterhalter and Matisse show a complete understanding of how to get the full advantage of the color contrast.

Matisse’s paintings are representing a whole different style of painting from a different era, but the mastery of both artists and their knowledge of how to operate the colors and painting backgrounds is what unites them. It is significant to acknowledge the innovative approaches these representatives of the two completely different eras used in their work that helped them earn the reputation, prominence, and appraisal they deserved.

Works Cited

Ingram, Catherine. This Is Matisse. London: Laurence King, 2015. Print.

World and Its Peoples. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2010. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, September 15). "The Princess Leonilla" a Portrait by Franz Winterhalter. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-princess-leonilla-a-portrait-by-franz-winterhalter/

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""The Princess Leonilla" a Portrait by Franz Winterhalter." IvyPanda, 15 Sept. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-princess-leonilla-a-portrait-by-franz-winterhalter/.

1. IvyPanda. ""The Princess Leonilla" a Portrait by Franz Winterhalter." September 15, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-princess-leonilla-a-portrait-by-franz-winterhalter/.


IvyPanda. ""The Princess Leonilla" a Portrait by Franz Winterhalter." September 15, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-princess-leonilla-a-portrait-by-franz-winterhalter/.


IvyPanda. 2020. ""The Princess Leonilla" a Portrait by Franz Winterhalter." September 15, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-princess-leonilla-a-portrait-by-franz-winterhalter/.


IvyPanda. (2020) '"The Princess Leonilla" a Portrait by Franz Winterhalter'. 15 September.

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