On 15 October 2008 the hammer came down on a world record price at the Dorotheum in Vienna, resulting in the addition of an absolute masterpiece to the extensive holdings of Biedermeier painting in the Princely Collections, which number around 20 works by Friedrich von Amerling alone. Not only regarded as an icon of Viennese Biedermeier painting but also the talk of the cultural scene in Vienna and beyond in recent weeks, Amerling’s Girl with a Straw Hat is now ensured of remaining in Austria.
The painting is now being briefly displayed to the public as the Artwork of the Month for November at the LIECHTENSTEIN MUSEUM. In future it will find a permanent home in the Liechtenstein city palace on Bankgasse at the heart of Vienna’s first district.
The Princely Collections possess remarkable holdings of Biedermeier-era painting. Many of these works were acquired by Prince Alois II von Liechtenstein (1796/1836–1858), who was a keen patron of Amerling, commissioning a number of works directly from the artist. During the regency of Prince Hans-Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein this part of the collection has been expanded: paintings such as Lost in Her Dreams (c. 1835) or the Portrait of Ignaz Franz Castelli together with three other paintings have been added over the past few years, including the Self-portrait dating to 1880–81. The Girl with Straw Hat, formerly in the possession of the Belvedere and restituted to the heirs of Ernst and Else Gotthilf in 2007, is another masterpiece by this painter and represents a logical addition to the existing holdings.
Painted in 1835, during Amerling’s most innovative and productive phase, this work is notable not only for its fine technique with partial use of glazing, but also for its choice of subject. As in his painting Lost in Her Dreams, which dates to the same year, Amerling here convincingly conveys the melancholy and pensive mood of the young woman portrayed, an effect emphasised by her gentle upward gaze and the way her head, propped on her right hand, is turned away from the viewer. Draped casually round her right forearm, the green ribbon of her hat accentuates and articulates the picture as does her red shawl and the broad-brimmed straw hat, seen from below. It is however not only the coloration of the painting that is so convincing but above all the subtle construction of its composition.
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Friedrich von Amerling
Girl with Straw Hat, 1835
Oil on canvas
height 58 cm, width 46 cm
Inv.-No. GE2455
Provenance: 1840 Obstlt. Fritz Liechtenstein, until 1939 Ernst Gotthilf, Compulsory auction at Weinmüller Vienna, March 15–17, 1939 (Lot 391), 1939 Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, 2007 restituted to the heirs of Ernst and Else Gotthilf, Auction at Dorotheum Vienna Oct. 15, 2008 (Lot 563), acquired in 2008 by Prince Hans-Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein
Further works on display
Portrait of the Sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844), 1843
Portrait of Princess Marie Franziska von Liechtenstein (1834-1909) at the Age of Two, 1836
Portrait of Princess Karoline von Liechtenstein (1836-85) at the Age of One and a Half, 1837
Portrait of Princess Sophie von Liechtenstein (1837-99) at the Age of about One and a Hall, 1838
Oil sketch for the Portrait of the Future Prince Johann II von Liechtenstein (1840-1929) on a White Poney, 1844/1845
Portrait of the Future Prince Johann II von Liechtenstein (1840-1929) on a White Pony, 1845
Portrait of the Painter Peter Fendi (1796-1842), 1833
Study of the Head of a Bearded Man
Lost in her Dreams, 1835
Portrait of Elise Kreuzbereger, 1837
Self-portrait, 1880/1881
Portrait of Prince Victor Odescalchi (1833–1880) in Greek costume at the age of five, 1838
Related themes
Acquisition Policy and New Acquisitions
Artwork of the Month / January – December 2009
Biedermeier, Pushkin Museum, Moscow
The Prince as Collector
New acquisitions >>