Franz Xaver Winterhalter (German, Menzenschwand 1805–1873 Frankfurt)
Oil on canvas
70 1/4 x 96 3/4 in. (178.4 x 245.7 cm)
Bequest of William H. Webb, 1899
Not on view
This painting depicts an episode from the legend of Roderick, the last king of the Spanish Visigoths. After spying on his maids of honor to determine the fairest among them, the king chose Florinda (at center left), who became the object of his love. In revenge, Florinda's father called the Arabs into Spain and brought about the conquest. This painting, which was shown at the Salon of 1853, is a replica of a version of the same size given by Queen Victoria to Prince Albert in 1852. Winterhalter used a similar composition for Empress Eugénie Surrounded by Her Ladies-in-Waiting (1855; Musée National du Château, Compiègne).
Inscription: Signed (lower right): Fx. Winterhalter
[Goupil & Cie, Paris and New York, 1854–59; stock no. 699, as "Florinde. Répétition"; purchased in 1854 for Fr 25,000; their sale, Henry H. Leeds & Co., New York, March 17, 1859, for $3,100 to Webb]; William H. Webb (1859–d. 1899)
Paris. Salon. May 15–?, 1853, no. 1198 (as "Florinde").
New York. Messrs. Goupil and Co. 1859, no. ? [see Cosmopolitan 1859].
New York. Metropolitan Fair. "Art Exhibition at the Metropolitan Fair, in Aid of the U.S. Sanitary Commission," 1864, no. 107 (lent by William H. Webb).
Boston Athenaeum. "National Sailor's Fair Art Exhibition," 1864, no. 240 (lent by William H. Webb) [see Perkins and Gavin 1980; later versions of the catalogue have different numbers: 2nd ed., no. 242; 3rd ed., no. 333].
New York. Wildenstein. "Sarah Bernhardt and her Times," November 13–December 28, 1984, unnumbered cat.
Horsin Déon. Rapport sur le Salon de 1853. Paris, 1853, p. 16.
Nadar [Félix Tournachon]. Nadar jury au Salon de 1853, album comique de 60 à 80 dessins coloriés; compte rendu d'environ 6 à 800 tableaux, sculptures, etc. Paris, 1853, unpaginated, no. 1198.
Henri Delaborde. Le Salon de 1853. Paris, 1853 [reprinted in "Mélanges sur l'art contemporain," Henri Delaborde, ed., Paris, 1866, pp. 91–92], remarks that Winterhalter was inspired by Chassériau's "Tepidarium" (Musée de Louvre, Paris) and that this compares unfavorably with it.
Boyeldieu-d'Auvigny inGuide aux menus plaisirs—Salon de 1853. Ed. Jules Dagneau. Paris, 1853, p. 42, likens it to Winterhalter's earlier "Decameron" (Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe).
Théophile Gautier. "Salon de 1853 (Huitième article)." La Presse (July 6, 1853), p. 1.
E[tie]nne-J[ea]n Delécluze. "Exposition de 1853 (Quatrième article)." Journal des débats politiques et littéraires (June 25, 1853), p. 1.
"Fine Arts." Albion 35 (May 30, 1857), p. 261, states that it is on view at Goupil's New York gallery as a means to sell engraved copies of the composition.
"Art Resources—Some Notices of Metropolitan Wealth—Art." Cosmopolitan Art Journal 1859 3 (March 1859), p. 86.
"City Intelligence." New York Times (March 18, 1859), p. 5, reports that this picture was the highlight of the March 17, 1859 sale of Goupil's collection, where it sold for $3,100 to Webb.
Franz Wild. The Nekrologe und Verzeichnisse der Gemälde von Franz & Hermann Winterhalter. Zürich, 1894 [reprinted in Richard Ormond and Carol Blackett-Ord, "Franz Xaver Winterhalter and the Courts of Europe," Washington, 1987, p. 237].
George H. Story. Catalogue of the Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1904, p. 227, incorrectly states that the models for the figures of the women were the Empress Eugénie and her Maids of Honor.
Mabel Munson Swan. The Athenaeum Gallery, 1827–1873; The Boston Athenaeum as an Early Patron of Art. Boston, 1940, p. 288.
Harry B. Wehle. "Seventy-Five Years Ago." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 4 (April 1946), p. 210, ill.
Winslow Ames. Letter to Klaus Virch. March 3, 1965.
Winslow Ames. Prince Albert and Victorian Taste. New York, 1968, pp. 140, 209.
Leo Lerman. The Museum: One Hundred Years and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1969, p. 156.
Robert F. Perkins Jr and William J. Gavin III. The Boston Athenaeum: Art Exhibition Index, 1827–1874. Boston, 1980, pp. 154, 227, list it as no. 240 in the 1864 exhibition, as no. 242 in the second edition, and as no. 333 in the third edition of the catalogue.
Carol Blackett-Ord and Richard Ormond. Franz Xaver Winterhalter and the Courts of Europe, 1830–70. Exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery. London, 1987, pp. 46, 61, 67, 195–96 (under cat. no. 38), 203, 237 (under no. 494), catalogues both this and the original version, discussing how Winterhalter took a fashionable literary theme and turned it into a fancy picture; remarks that the original version heralded his return to the Parisian art scene and the beginning of a triumphant phase of his career; calls the MMA painting the version that went to the Salon of 1853; comments that the theory that it was meant to represent the leading courtesans of the Second Empire in "thinly veiled disguise," as the erotic demi-monde, is false and that he used professional models; states that it foreshadows the setting in "Portrait of the Empress Eugénie surrounded by her Ladies-in-Waiting"; states that he painted what he saw and that he depicts fabrics with a virtuoso skill.
Oliver Millar. The Victorian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen. Cambridge, 1992, vol. 1, p. 322 (under no. 930).
Bates Lowry and Isabel Barrett Lowry. The Silver Canvas: Daugerrotype Masterpieces from the J. Paul Getty Museum. Exh. cat., J. Paul Getty Museum. Los Angeles, 1998, pp. 124, 222 n. 32, remarks that Queen Victoria's purchase of the original of this painting (Royal Collection, London) forced Winterhalter to paint this "second version" for exhibition at the Salon of 1853; notes that the English deplored its Frenchness as the French did its Englishness; states that it found no immediate buyer and was in the hands of Goupil, Paris in 1857 and that they commissioned an engraving of the work, from which a daguerreotype was made.
The subject is taken from the legend of Roderick, the last king of the Spanish Visigoths. The incident depicted shows the king at the left, spying on his maids-of-honor to determine who is the fairest among them. He selected Florinda, at left center, who afterwards became the object of his affection. Her father, in revenge, called the Arabs into Spain and brought about the Arab Conquest.
The composition and the wooded setting of "Florinda" draw on Winterhalter's earlier "Decameron," exhibited at the Salon of 1837 as no. 1853 (private collection). A reduced replica, made in the same year, is now in the Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe. These foreshadow the composition and setting in "Empress Eugénie Surrounded by Her Ladies-in-Waiting" of 1855 (Musée national du château de Compiègne). A preparatory sketch is recorded, and there are other related versions in oil and chalk. There is also a copy inscribed "Wm Frye [or Fyre] 1861" [see photo in Departmental file].
Winterhalter's "Florinda" was shown at the Royal Academy exhibition of 1852 and Queen Victoria purchased it (Royal Collection, London) as a gift for her husband Prince Albert. The MMA painting is a version of the original that was exhibited at the Salon of 1853. In 1857 Victoria gave her husband a watercolor copy, which may be the version that Winterhalter prepared for the lithographer Léon Nobel. A smaller copy of the painting was in a private collection in 1949 and may be the one that appeared in Kansas City in the late 1960s. A small watercolor version (28.8 x 40.4 cm), bearing the monogram FW, without Roderick or the castle, was sold as no. 230 in the Hauswedell & Nolte, Hamburg sale of June 5, 1979. Both engravings and daguerreotypes were made by Hermann Eichens while at Goupil, Paris, in the late 1850s.