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Artist Franz Winterholter, High Society, MFAH
What was the amazing talent, which allowed one artist to become the most renowned portraitist of the courts of Europe of the 19th century? Why was he sought after by the kings, queens, and other members of the royal families, aristocracy and high society, to paint their likenesses, which would immortalize them, and tell their stories to the world for centuries to come? What was it that caused entire royal families to commission and trust artist Franz X. Winterhalter to visually convey to the world the impression they wanted to give? To obtain insight into these questions, and much more, one must visit “High Society: The Portraits of Franz X. Winterhalter,” a major and important survey exhibit of Renowned 19th-Century European Aristocratic Portraitist Franz Winterhalter, at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH), from April 17, 2016 to August 14, 2016.
The stunning exhibit is made possible because of the dedication of Dr. Helga K Aurisch, curator of European Art at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Mr. Gary Tinterow, Director of the museum, and many other individuals, who worked for over 5 years to make this exhibit a success. The exhibition was originally conceived by Helga Kessler Aurisch, who worked closely with her colleagues Laure Chabanne, curator at the Palais de Compiegne, and Miria Straub, curatorial assistant to the director of the Augustinermuseum Stadtische Museen Freiburg. In fact, works of artist Winterhalter were drawn from over 35 public, private, and royal collections around the world. Lenders include Hearst Castle, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The J Paul Getty Museum, Lord Middleton, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Musee’ d’ Orsay, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Royal Collection Trust London, and others. His brilliant portraits of European royalty still grace the walls of Buckingham Palace, the Vienna Hofburg, the Palacio Real in Madrid, Het Loo in Holland, and Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City. Artist.com met with the curators Helga Aurisch, Laure Chabanne, and Miria Straub, and was impressed by the devotion and patience which this massive project required, taking over 5 years, and over 50 people to complete. The insights which Dr. Aurisch has into not only the skills and talents of artist Winterhalter, but also how his artistic gift weaved into the history, politics and economics of the 19th century is itself extremely insightful. The massive research and significant insights of theirs are published in the catalogue “High Society: The Portraits of Franz Xaver Winterhalter.” This fully illustrated catalogue includes essays by Helga Kessler Aurisch, Tilmann von Stockhausen, Eugene Barilo von Reisberg, Laure Chabanne, Mirja Straub, and Elizabeth Ann Coleman, and it features a selection of Winterhalter’s portraits, along with images of clothing by Worth. Publicist Laine Lieberman and her group at the MFAH have done a wonderful job in bringing awareness and education to the public, about this exhibit.