Friedrich von Amerling’s child portraits are among the most fascinating and enchanting works from the age of Viennese Biedermeier in the Princely Collections: from the sleeping Princess Marie Franziska (1836) and the likenesses of Princess Karoline (1837) and Sophie (1838) to the preparatory study (1844/45) and formal portrait in oils of the future Prince Johann II von Liechtenstein mounted on a grey pony (1845). Now these holdings have been joined by another portrait of a young boy.
In this painting Friedrich von Amerling portrays Prince Victor Odescalchi as a child in oriental costume. His charmingly chubby-cheeked face turned to the left, the little prince wears Greek dress with a gold-embroidered chemise and green waistcoat, a red sash from which the handle of a dagger protrudes, and a red fez with a blue tassel. Sources record that at the age of five he wore this costume to a children’s ball given by Prince Metternich. Festive celebrations of this kind provided the 19th-century Viennese with a welcome opportunity to dress up in oriental costume, often made of precious fabrics. Although portraits of this kind are rare in Austrian painting, the œuvre of Friedrich von Amerling contains a small but all the more important number of works depicting oriental women or people in oriental costume. In Waldmüller’s oil study The Lesson, painted in 1837, the Princely Collections possess another testament to the oriental fashion of the 19th century.
A watercolour from the late œuvre of Rudolf von Alt, signed R. Alt 853 and today held in the Albertina, documents the original location of this portrait by Amerling, in the salon of Princess Henriette Odescalchi at Schloss Hirtenberg in Lower Austria, where a year later a gun-cotton factory was to be established. It shows it in a frame with a rather limited oval mount, traces of which are still discernible on the surface of the painting. Nonetheless, it must be assumed that the painting was conceived by the artist with a rectangular outline, even if some parts at the edge of the image are uted with typically loose brushwork.
Owned by the Odescalchi family until 1968, the painting was thereafter held in a private collection and has been recently acquired by Prince Hans-Adam II von und zu Liechtenstein.
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Friedrich von Amerling
Portrait of Prince Victor Odescalchi (1833–1880) in Greek costume at the age of five, 1838
height 45,3 cm, width 37 cm
Inv.-No. GE2464
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
Girl with Straw Hat, 1835
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