FRIEDRICH VON AMERLING (1803 Vienna–1887 Vienna)
Pen in brown on pencil, grey wash, on paper, height: 6,3 cm, width: 4 cm, mounted on support, passe-partout, unframed
Ludwig Lobmeyr Collection, Vienna (Lugt 287) until 1917
Auction Wawra, Künstlerhaus Wien, October 22, 1917, lot no. 175
Emanuel Braun Collection, Vienna, until ca. 1930
Edith Oser-Braun, until 1938
Acquired by the Albertina, Vienna (inv.-no. 28057-28059), September 23, 1938
Restituted to the rightful heirs of Edith and Siegfried Oser-Braun 2002
Dorotheum, Vienna, Master Drawings and Prints before 1900, Watercolours, Miniatures, June 16, 2009, lot 00710
Austrian private property
European private property
  Friedrich von Amerling’s “Study of a Seated Dignitary” shows a man in festive floor-length vestment. He is sitting on a chair, a column to his right, to his left a table or a piece of architecture is indicated. Next to the column a curtain constitutes the backdrop to the composition. Perhaps the sketch is a study for “Ferdinand Maria Graf von Chotek, Archbishop of Olmütz” (1781–1836), whom Amerling portrayed in a painting in 1835. Amerling created this likeness during his stay in Teplitz/Teplice, where Johann Graf Waldstein-Wartenburg was his host. This is likely, given that the insignia in the painting, such as the crozier and the mitre are later additions by another hand. This intervention became known when the painting was presented at the academy-exhibition in 1839: Amerling was outraged. The insignia are absent from the sketch. The position of the hands – the left resting on the armrest, the right on the thigh – corresponds very closely to the one in the painting, the same is true for the contours of the vestment, even though the figure in the sketch is turning farther to the left.
The sketch might also be a preparation for the painting “Emperor Francis I in the Robes of the Order of the Golden Fleece” dating from 1834. Arguments in favour of this would be the turning to the left as well as the high forehead, characteristic of the Emperor. However, the posture of the hands and the position of the table are different.
Additional drawings by Friedrich von Amerling from the Ludwig Lobmeyr collection on personal request.
[1] Sabine Grabner (ed.), Friedrich von Amerling, 1803–1887, exhib.-cat. Österreichische Galerie Belvedere Wien, March 26–June 26, 2003, Leipzig, E. A. Seemann 2003, p. 136.
Born on April 14, 1803 in the Viennese suburb Mariahilf–January 14, 1887 Vienna, together with Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller he was one of the most renowned Austrian portraitists of the 19th century.
Born into the family of a gold and silver wire drawer, Amerling studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna from 1815 until 1824. Afterwards he decided to continue his education at the Academy in Prague, before, in 1827, he moved to London for just over a year and a half. There he met the portraitist Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769–1830), who was to greatly influence his work. Other journeys led to Paris and Rome, from where he was finally called to Vienna in order to portray Francis I, Emperor of Austria. This commission made him one of the leading portraitists, whose particular style combined the elegance of British portrait painting with the Realism of the Viennese Biedermeier tradition. The gift for sensitive observation, precious to exotic arrangements, and a solid palette of colours were characteristic of his works. Amerling, who married four times, went on extensive educational trips throughout his life: 1840–1843 and 1845/46 to Rome, 1882 to Spain, 1883 i. a. to England, 1884 to Greece, 1885 to Egypt and Palestine, as well as to Scandinavia and the North Cape. His distinguished clientele included not only members of the Royal family, but also wealthy members of the upper class, and celebrities like artists secured his excellent international reputation already during his lifetime.
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