The Empress Eugénie (Eugénie de Montijo, 1826–1920, Condesa de Teba)
Franz Xaver Winterhalter (German, Menzenschwand 1805–1873 Frankfurt)
Oil on canvas
36 1/2 x 29 in. (92.7 x 73.7 cm)
Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Claus von Bülow Gift, 1978
Not on view
Winterhalter began an official portrait of Empress Eugénie (Eugénie de Montijo, Condesa de Teba, 1826-1920) shortly after her marriage in 1853 to Napoleon III, emperor of France, but it was not exhibited until 1855. The present work is, in contrast, relatively intimate in scale and effect. It shows the empress in a Second Empire adaptation of an eighteenth-century gown. Her interest in the previous century, especially her fascination with Marie Antoinette, queen of France from 1774 to 1793, is well documented.
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed (lower right): Fr[?] Winterhalter Paris 1854
the sitter, Empress Eugénie, Saint Cloud and Farnborough Hill, Farnborough, Hampshire, commissioned from the artist (until d. 1920; her estate; her estate sale, Christie's, London, July 1, 1927, no. 99, for £620 or 651 to Seligmann); Jacques Seligmann, Paris 1927; his son, Germain Seligman(n), Paris and New York, 1927–77; sold to Artemis Group for Thaw; [E. V. Thaw, New York, 1977–78; sold to MMA]
Paris. Palais des Beaux-Arts. "Exposition universelle de 1855," May 15–?, 1855, no. 4207 (as "L'impératrice, portrait en pied").
Paris. Palais des Beaux-Arts. "Visites et études de S. A. I. le Prince Napoléon," 1856, unnumbered cat.
Paris. Jacques Seligmann. "Winterhalter: Portraits de dames du Second Empire," May 25–June 15, 1928, no. 19 (lent by Germain Seligmann).
London. M. Knoedler & Co. "Beautiful Women of the 19th Century," February 10–March 11, 1933, no. 3 (lent by Germain Seligmann).
London. M. Knoedler & Co. "Winterhalter," December 3–19, 1936, no. 24 (lent by Germain Selgimann).
Art Gallery of Toronto. "Paintings of Women from the Fifteenth to the Twentieth Century," October 14–November 14, 1938, no. 49 (lent by Captain Germain Seligmann, New York).
New York. World's Fair. "Masterpieces of Art: European & American Paintings, 1500–1900," May–October 1940, no. 289.
San Francisco. California Palace of the Legion of Honor. "Vanity Fair," June 16–July 16, 1942, no. 21 (lent by Germain Seligmann, New York).
New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc. "Fashion in Headdress, 1450–1943," April 27–May 27, 1943, no. 83 (lent by Germain Seligmann).
Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "Great Portraits by Famous Painters," November 13–December 21, 1952, no. 38 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Germain Seligman, New York).
Philadelphia Museum of Art. "The Second Empire, 1852–1870: Art in France under Napoleon III," October 1–November 26, 1978, no. VI-109.
Detroit Institute of Arts. "The Second Empire, 1852–1870: Art in France under Napoleon III," January 15–March 18, 1979, no. VI-109 (as lent by estate of Germain Seligman, New York, actually owned by MMA).
New York. Wildenstein. "Sarah Bernhardt and her Times," November 13–December 28, 1984, unnumbered cat.
London. National Portrait Gallery. "Franz Xaver Winterhalter and the Courts of Europe, 1830–70," October 30, 1987–January 10, 1988, no. 52 (as "The Empress Eugénie à la Marie-Antointete").
Paris. Petit Palais. "Franz Xaver Winterhalter and the Courts of Europe, 1830–70," February 11–May 7, 1988, no. 52.
Künstlerhaus Wien. "Der Traum vom Glück: Die Kunst des Historismus in Europa," September 13, 1996–January 6, 1997, no. 12.8.
Stockholm. Nationalmuseum. "Face to Face: Portraits from Five Centuries," October 4, 2001–January 27, 2002, no. 215.
"Napoleon III and Paris," June 9–September 7, 2009.
Armand Dayot. "Winterhalter–Painter to the Second Empire." International Studio 91 (October 1928), pp. 41–42, ill.
Armand Dayot. "À propos de Winterhalter." Art et les artistes 87 (May 1928), pp. 259–60, ill. opp. p. 262.
Albert Flament. "L'exhibition Winterhalter." L'illustration 447 (May 26, 1928), p. 552, ill.
Raymond Bouyer. "Quelques portraits de Winterhalter." Le Figaro artistique (May 31, 1928), p. 528, ill.
"A XIX-Century 'Fürstenmaler'." The Connoisseur 99 (January 1937), p. 44, ill.
"Art Notes Round the Galleries." Apollo 25 (January 1937), p. 46.
Vanity Fair. Exh. cat., California Palace of the Legion of Honor. San Francisco, 1942, p. 14, no. 21, remarks that the Empress is walking in the park of the Chateau of Compiègne.
Rainer Schoch. Das Herrscherbild in der Malerei des 19.Jahrhunderts. Munich, 1975, pp.148–49, 359, fig. 158.
J[oseph]. R[ishel]. inThe Second Empire, 1852–1870: Art in France under Napoleon III. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 1978, pp. 357–58, no. VI-109, ill. [French ed., "L'art en France sous le Second Empire," Paris, 1979, pp. 413–14, no. 277, ill.], suggests that it may have been exhibited in the Salon of 1855, and is unique, among Eugénie's many portraits, in being on a relatively intimate scale and a second empire adaptation of a Louis XVI gown, perhaps a direct depiction of a costume worn at one of the early masked balls at the Tuileries; discusses Eugénie's interest in Marie Antoinette.
Steven Z. Levine. "The Crisis of Resemblance: Portraits and Paintings during the Second Empire." Arts Magazine 53 (December 1978), pp. 92–93, ill.
Dean Walker inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1975–1979. New York, 1979, p. 54, ill., suggests that it may have been painted as a model for a full-scale portrait that was never executed.
Artemis Fine Arts, Inc. Artemis 78–79: Consolidated Audited Annual Report (October 26, 1979), pp. 5, 34, no. 13, colorpl. 13, confirms that the setting is the park of Compiègne, the Imperial couple's favorite residence, where they stayed each autumn; notes that it remained in Eugénie's private apartments until the end of the Second Empire in 1870.
John Richardson, ed. The Collection of Germain Seligman. New York, 1979, unpaginated, no. 89, ill., inaccurately lists it as one of the personal treasures that the French government returned to Eugénie when she lived in exile in England; suggests that her depiction in the grandest eighteenth-century manner is a result of Second Empire nostalgia for past splendors, calling it "unashamedly 'retardataire'".
Barbara Scott. "In the Shadow of Marie-Antoinette." Country Life 166 (December 6, 1979), p. 2160, fig. 1.
Dore Ashton and Denise Browne Hare. Rosa Bonheur: A Life and a Legend. New York, 1981, p. 78, ill.
Richard Ormond et al. Franz Xaver Winterhalter and the Courts of Europe, 1830–70. Exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery. London, 1987, pp. 48, 53, 70–71, 127, 202–3, no. 52, ill. (color and black and white), calls the profile view here the genesis for Winterhalter's favorite alternative format for standing portraits, "where the figure resembles the shape of a bell with curved handle".
Marie Simon. Fashion in Art: The Second Empire and Impressionism. London, 1995, p. 96, ill. p. 99 (color).
Angelina Pötschner inDer Traum vom Glück: Die Kunst des Historismus in Europa. Ed. Hermann Fillitz. Exh. cat., Künstlerhaus Wien. Vienna, 1996, vol. 2, pp. 466–67, no. 12.8, colorpl. 12.8.
Pierre Apraxine and Xavier Demange. La Comtesse de Castiglione par elle-même. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 1999, p. 57, illustrates a photograph (location unknown) dated 1854 by Mayer frerès of Empress Eugénie, in the same pose and a similar dress, which was used as a preparatory study for the MMA picture.
Florence Austin. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. July 22, 1999, encloses a photocopy of a photograph of it hanging in the Empress's private apartment at Saint Cloud, in the southern wing of the palace, from about the mid 1860s, where it hung on green damask; notes that the Empress was known to change the location of her pictures frequently.
Eva-Lena Karlsson in Görel Cavalli-Björkman. Face to Face: Portraits from Five Centuries. Exh. cat.Stockholm, 2001, p. 211, no. 215, colorpl. 215.
Florence Austin Montenay. Saint-Cloud: une vie de château. Geneva, 2005, ill. p. 294.