Born in the Grand-Duchy of Baden in 1805, of peasant stock, Franz Xaver Winterhalter received early training in Freiburg as a graphic artist. In 1824 he enrolled at the Munich Academy for further study in painting, while continuing to earn a living with lithographic work. Moving to Karlsruhe in 1828, he found employment as drawing master to the margravine of Baden and thus entered the world of aristocratic patronage. A travel stipend in 1833-1834 took him to Italy, where he composed romantic genre scenes in the manner of Léopold Robert (1794-1835). Though appointed court painter to the grand-ducal court on his return to Karlsruhe, he shortly moved to Paris, where he soon attracted notice with Italian genre scenes exhibited at the Salons from 1836 to 1838. King Louis-Philippe commissioned him to paint portraits of the entire royal family and of leading members of the court. Their success earned Winterhalter the reputation of a specialist in dynastic and aristocratic portraiture, skilled in combining likeness with flattery and enlivening official pomp with modern fashion. As the "Painter of Princes" he was thereafter in constant demand by the courts of Britain (from 1841), Spain, Belgium, Russia, the Germanies, and France after the accession of Napoleon III. To deal with the pressure of portrait commissions, many of them calling for multiple replicas, he made extensive use of assistants. He died in Frankfurt in 1873. [This is the artist's biography published, or to be published, in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]
Nagler, G.K. Neues allgemeines Künstler-Lexicon. 3rd ed. 24 vols. Reprint of the 1835-1852 ed. Leipzig, 1924: 24:455-461.
Schoch, Rainer. Das Herrscherbild in der Malerei des 19. Jahrhunderts. Munich, 1973: 143.
Ormond, Richard, and Carol Blackett-Ord. Franz Xaver Winterhalter and the Courts of Europe, 1830-1870. Exh. cat. National Portrait Gallery, London, 1987.
Eitner, Lorenz. French Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I: Before Impressionism. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 2000: 370.