Franz Xavier Winterhalter was born in the small
village of Mensenschwad in Germany. He studied painting at the academy
of Monaco. In 1835, after he painted portrait of Grand Duke Leopold of
Baden, Winterhalter was appointed his court painter. With that portrait
his international career was launched. The royal families of England, France,
and Belgium all commissioned their portraits from him. Under Napoleon III,
Winterhalter became the chief portrait-painter of the imperial family and
court of France. Among his many regal sitters was also Queen Victoria.
Winterhalter first visited England in 1842, and returned several times
to paint Victoria, Albert and their growing family, he did at least 120
works for them. Winterhalter also painted a few portraits of the aristocracy
in England, mostly members of court circles. Russian aristocratic visitors
to Paris also liked to have their portraits executed by the famous master.
Although Winterhalter never received high praise for his work from serious
critics, his royal patrons highly appreciated his ability “to create the
image his sitters wished or needed to project to their subjects.” He died
in Frankfurt in 1873.