The Kaunitz Sisters (Leopoldine, Caroline, and Ferdinandine)

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (French, Montauban 1780–1867 Paris)

commissioned by Prince Wenzel von Kaunitz-Rietberg (Austrian Ambassador to Rome 1818)
11-7/8 x 8-3/4 in. (30.1 x 22.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, in honor of Philippe de Montebello, 1998
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Ingres's appealing drawing presents the three daughters of Austria's ambassador in Rome, Prince Wenzel von Kaunitz-Rietberg. The young women, portrayed at ages thirteen to seventeen, are shown in the discreet luxury of Empire fashion in a setting that suggests the privileged, cultured world to which they were accustomed. They cluster gracefully around the piano, probably in the family music room where Paganini gave a private recital in 1819, just a year after their portrait sitting. Indeed, it may have been Ingres's passion for music that first won him an invitation to the Kaunitz residence.

    Although at the time of this work Ingres was not yet widely known as an artist, he was clearly at the height of his form as a portraitist. The precise subtlety of his draftsmanship, his almost musical distribution of accents, and his tender depiction of youth are exquisite. Such a portrait might be given credit for helping to secure desirably titled husbands, as all three daughters did, eventually, despite the fact that their father's philandering brought him the disgrace of judicial review in Vienna in 1822 and, ultimately, exile.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: [lower left]: Ingres del.; [lower right]: rome 1818

    Inscription: [at lower left, a note for the framer]: Partie dans le cadre [This section under the frame]

    Marking: [at lower right]: the Anton Schmid collection stamp (Lugt 2330b)

  • Provenance

    Fürst and Fürstin von Kauntiz-Rietberg (Austrian); Fürstin Anton Karl Pálffy (Austrian); Nicolaus Palffy (Schloss Marchegg, Austria,)1931; Anton Schmid (born Oderfurt, Czechoslovakia, 1904, died Vienna); Hans M. Calmann ; Alfred Strölin (French, 1871–1954); Bruno de Bayser (French); Donor: Jayne Wrightsman

  • Catalogue Raisonné

    Naef 220; London,Wash.,New York 1999, no.77

  • References

    Ingres. 1967-68, cat. no. 112.

    Eva Steiner "An Unknown Drawing by J.A.D. Ingres." Old Master Drawings. London, June, 1931, pp. 300-306.

    Hans Naef Die Bildniszeichnungen von J.-A.-D. Ingres. 4 vols., Bern, 1977-1980, Vol V: Index - Kaunitz, cat. no. Vol IV. 224, pp. 420-21, ill.

    Brinsley Ford "Ingres' Portrait Drawings of English People at Rome, 1806-1820." Burlington Magazine. July 1939, p. 7.

    Carmen C. Bambach, Colta Ives, Perrin Stein, Nadine Orenstein "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1998-1999." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 57, no. 2, Autumn 1999, p. 40, ill.

    Gary Tinterow, Philip Conisbee, Christopher Riopelle, Hans Naef, Robert Rosenblum, Andrew Carrington Shelton, Georges Vigne, Rebecca A. Rabinow Portraits by Ingres: Image of an Epoch. Ex. cat.: National Gallery, London, Jan. 27-Apr. 25, 1999; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., May 23-Aug. 22, 1999; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Oct. 5, 1999-Jan. 2, 2000. New York, 1999, cat. no. 77, pp. 220-222, 227, ill.

    Pierre Rosenberg, Perrin Stein, Elizabeth Barker, George R. Goldner, Alain-Charles Gruber, Colta Ives, Asher Ethan Miller, Sabine Rewald, Gary Tinterow The Wrightsman Pictures. Everett Fahy, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2005, cat. no. 84, pp. 308-309, ill.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History