L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i



Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Emperor and Empress of the French, equestrian portraits by Charles-Édouard Boutibonne, 1856


The now lost Château de Saint-Cloud is seen in the distance.  Boutibonne's study with Winterhalter is evident in the treatment of the background.

It is believed that Boutibonne collaborated with John Frederick Herring, as he had with the similar portraits of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, with Boutibonne painting the figures and Herring the horses.  All four painting were completed in the same year, with the queen commissioning the portraits of the French couple, and she and Prince Albert giving their respective portraits to each other as gifts.  All four paintings remain in the Royal Collection today.  I think the painting of the Empress is, by far, the most successful.  In color and pose and atmosphere; it's also a good likeness.  The portrait of the Emperor is passable, the Queen's dull, and that of the Prince Consort really quite awkward.


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Charles-Édouard Boutibonne (8 July 1816, Budapest – 7 February 1897, Wilderswil bei Interlaken), French academic painter, whose work included history and genre subjects, and portraits. Born in Hungary to French parents, he was a pupil of Friedrich von Amerling in Vienna, before later moving to Paris, where he studied with Achille Devéria and Winterhalter. He spent some time in London during the 1850s, and he showed regularly at the Paris Salon during the 1860s.

In her youth, the Empress was a brilliant and fearless horsewoman who, rather scandalously for the time, always rode astride her horse
rather than using the customary sidesaddle.  After her marriage - and certainly for an "official" depiction - she assumed the more
conventional, "ladylike" position.  I love the color and rendering of her shot silk riding habit.

John Frederick Herring, Sr. (12 September 1795, London – 23 September 1865, Meopham Park), English artist, known for his paintings of horses. In 1845, he gained the patronage of Queen Victoria's mother, the Duchess of Kent, and subsequently that of the queen, herself, which he held until his death.

There is a second version of the Empress' portrait, with a slightly different setting and alterations in coloration.  The background is even
more Winterhalter-esque than the first.  This version is lovely, too, but I find it much less "poetic" than the one in the Royal Collection.
Likewise, there is a second version of the Emperor's portrait, again, with small alterations.  Both of these paintings are dated 1857.  The
description of the horses in these later versions is much less secure, and I would guess that Herring was not involved in their execution.






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