Franz Xaver Winterhalter (German, 1805–1873)
Oil on canvas
36 1/2 x 29 in. (92.7 x 73.7 cm)
Signed, dated, and inscribed (lower right): Fr[?] Winterhalter Paris 1854
Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Claus von Bülow Gift, 1978 (1978.403)
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.