The Painter Franz Xaver Winterhalter
This documentary tells the fascinating story of Franz Xaver Winterhalter, a farmer's boy from the Black Forest who went out into the world to conquer the royal houses of Europe as a painter. But hardly anyone today remembers his name, although many know his works. Winterhalter's portrait of the Austrian empress Sissi is still a popular reprint.
Franz Xaver Winterhalter was born in 1805. He travelled constantly from one royal palace to the next. He was called 'Winterchen' - 'little Winter' - by the royals because of his diminutive stature. Winterhalter not only painted a portrait of Elisabeth, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary, who was better known as Sissi, he also painted Queen Victoria of England, the queen of Spain, the Prussian royal couple, and the Tsar and Tsarina of Russia - the list of monarchs and nobles could go on and on. Filmmaker and art historian Grit Lederer has followed Winterhalter's footsteps around Europe. Exclusive footage from Buckingham Palace shows how highly esteemed the paintings of the German painter still are: his large-format portraits of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are on show in the atrium of Buckingham Palace, in the Marble Hall. His paintings can also be found in the palaces of Versailles and Compiègne. Lederer was also given exclusive access to Langenstein Palace on Lake Constance, the stately home of Count Christoph Douglas. His ancestors also had themselves and their children painted by Winterhalter.