Countess Maria Ivanovna Lamsdorff was the wife of a Russian aristocrat and Francophile, and the daughter of a poet and translator, which may explain the book of English poetry in her lap. She was twenty-four years old when she sat to Winterhalter, who was one of the premiere portraitists of the European nobility. Although trained in Germany, he spent most of his career in Paris, and his paintings reflect the cosmopolitan stylishness associated with the city. The countess’s fashionable day dress, trimmed in violet ribbon, may have been suggested by Winterhalter, who is known to have advised sitters on their wardrobe.
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Title:Countess Alexander Nikolaevitch Lamsdorff (Maria Ivanovna Beck, 1835–1866)
Credit Line:Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876-1967), 1967
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed (lower left): FrWinterhalter / Paris 1859.
the sitter's husband, Count Alexander Nikolaevitch Lamsdorff, Saint Petersburg (possibly commissioned as a wedding present in 1859–d. 1902); their son, Count Nikolai Alexandrovitch Lamsdorff, Saint Petersburg (1902–d. 1906); his brother, Count Dmitry Alexandrovitch Lamsdorff, Saint Petersburg (1906–at least 1917; probably expropriated and nationalized in 1918/19); State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow (in 1925–28; transferred to the Pushkin); Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow (ca. 1928); [art dealer, Paris, in the 1920s and 1930s; sold to de Groot]; Adelaide Milton de Groot, New York (by 1936–d. 1967; on loan to The Met, 1936)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Vanity Fair," December 15, 1977–September 3, 1978, not in catalogue.
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. 236, no. 407], calls it a three-quarter length portrait.
A. P. Muller. Painters and Sculptors in Russia. Moscow, 1925 [see Ref. Barilo von Reisberg 2003], as in the collection of the State Trtyakov Gallery, Moscow.
Harry B. Wehle. "A Loan of Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 31 (October 1936), p. 210.
Harry B. Wehle. "The de Groot Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 6 (June 1948), pp. 264, 268, ill., erroneously states that the countess was the wife of the Russian ambassador to Rome.
Richard Ormond et al. Franz Xaver Winterhalter and the Courts of Europe, 1830–70. Exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery. London, 1987, pp. 54, 236, no. 407, includes iy as no. 407 in an annotated list of Winterhalter's works originally drawn up by his nephew Franz Wild in 1894; comments that it represents a full-face pose with bust and head rising vertically from the semicircle of the dress.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 233, ill.
Eugene Barilo von Reisberg. Letter to Gary Tinterow. March 12, 2003, gives extensive information regarding the sitter and her family and suggests that the book of poetry that she holds is a reference to her father.
Rebecca A. Rabinow inMasterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 44, 312, no. 41, ill. (color and black and white).
E[mmanuel]. Burlion. Franz Xaver Winterhalter. [Brest], , p. 73, no. 488, as "La comtesse Ivanovna Lamsdorf".
Countess Maria Ivanovna Lamsdorff was the daughter of Ivan Alexandrovitch Beck, a Russian translator and poet, and Maria Arkadievna Stolypina. In 1857, two years before the portrait was painted, she married Count Alexander Nicolaevitch Lamsdorff of St. Petersburg, who was a Russian ambassador to the French court. She is believed to have died of consumption. The book she holds in her hand is thought to be a reference to her father.
Wild (1894, no 285) refers to another painting of the Countess Lamsdorff (size and location unknown). A related watercolor drawing, Portrait of an Unknown Girl, signed and dated 1857, was formerly in the collection of Sir Robert Abdy.
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