Lines and Colors art blog

Eye Candy for Today: Franz Xaver Winterhalter pencil portrait

Portrait of Baroness Gudin, nee Margareth Louis Hay, Franz Xaver Winterhalter, pencil portrait
Portrait of Baroness Gudin, née Margareth Louis Hay, Franz Xaver Winterhalter

Graphite, roughly 15 x 11 (40 x 29 cm); in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In this deceptively simple, sensitively realized pencil portrait, 19th century German painter Franz Xaver Winterhalter has given particular attention to nuances of value changes in the shadowed side of the face. These are actually easier to see at first in the smaller reproductions; you can then identify them in the closer crops.

Specifically, I admire his handling of the uplighting under the woman’s chin, and to a reduced extent, on her cheek — contrasted with the darker plane of the top of the cheek between the eye and the nose. The light picks up in the indentation at the side of the mouth, and again above the eye.

Also particularly appealing are the soft edges and close value relationships in the rendering of the lips and nose, where the artist has resisted the temptation to push the dark contrasts in these areas.

In the closer views, Winterhalter’s deft, confident application of tone appears to reflect a degree of tooth in the paper.


3 responses to “Eye Candy for Today: Franz Xaver Winterhalter pencil portrait”

  1. ælle Avatar

    A selfie of the magnificent court painter and his brother Hermann, dated January 1st, 1840:

  2. acute Avatar

    so delicate.

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