11 May
Wed / 2016

Inside the MFAH
Winterhalter, Meet Worth

Fashionable women all across 19th-century Europe once clamored to pose for Franz X. Winterhalter, because what could be trendier than a portrait by the painter who could best capture the delicate elegance of a chic gown designed by Charles Frederick Worth, the world’s first couturier?

The clientele of the two overlapped considerably, as Worth designed extensively for Napoleon III’s court and the French Empress Eugénie, who favored Winterhalter as her portraitist.

Before Empress Eugénie, however, there was one stylish princess who was the source of the craze for Winterhalter and Worth: Princess Pauline Clémentine von Metternich-Winneburg zu Beilstein (1836–1921), wife of the Austrian ambassador to the French court.

Franz X. Winterhalter, Pauline Sándor, Princess Metternich
Franz X. Winterhalter, Pauline Sándor, Princess Metternich, 1860, oil on canvas, private collection.

Not especially known for her beauty—she was cruelly nicknamed le singe à la mode (the fashionable monkey)—the princess was nonetheless celebrated for her exquisite personal style, her wit, and her musical prowess. (She is also known for a topless duel with a countess, but that’s another story.) Winterhalter transforms Princess Metternich into a vision in his 1860 portrait (above), softening her strong features and illuminating the gauzy white gown most likely made by Worth.

Princess Metternich wore a Worth gown to a ball given by Empress Eugénie, who was so taken by the design that she subsequently ordered all of her evening looks from Worth. The empress set the styles at the French court, so nobility followed her lead. By the 1870s, the House of Worth had rocketed to international fame, with European and American women flocking to Paris for the latest Worth looks, which retained a monopoly in French fashion until the end of the 19th century.

High Society: The Portraits of Franz X. Winterhalter, on view through August 14, showcases works by both Winterhalter and Worth. (As a Houston Chronicle writer put it, “Eat your heart out, Scarlett O'Hara.”)

Recent Posts

Post Archives

Tag Cloud

17th-century 18thc 18th-century 1960s 1970s 19th-century 20th-century 35mm 5womenartists abstract abstraction activities activity africa african-art a-history-of-photography akan america american american-art ancient and angelica-kauffmann animals animation anna-atkins antiquities architecture archive armchair-travel art art-books artist artists art-of-the-islamic-worlds arts-of-india azaleas bayou bayou-bend bayou-bend-christmas-village bend bestowing-beauty biblical biography black book british british-arrows british-art broadways-amazing-mastersons buffalo-bayou-park-cistern camp campus campus-redevelopment cannes carroll-sterling-masterson chair chef chinese-art christmas christmas-fun cinema cisternrain civil-rights classes classic classic-films cocktail coffee collection color colors-of-the-oasis community concrete conservation contemporary-art contemporary-arts-museum-houston contemporary-film contesting-modernity countess create cullen-sculpture-garden culture curator curators-picks dance decorative-arts degas degas-a-new-vision design digital discussion diversity documentary documents dont-blink-robert-frank drama drawings dutch-art electronic elizabeth-i england english e-records europe exhibition exhibitions eye-on-houston family family-programs fashion fashion-fusion feast festival fiber-arts field film films flowers food france francis-bacon free french french-art fun future futuremfah gainsborough galleries gallery gallery-interpretation garden gardening garden-paradise gardens george-iii glassell glassell-school-of-art google-art-project google-arts-and-culture habsburg-splendor-masterpieces-from-viennas-imperial-collections halloween happyhour happy-new-year harris-masterson-iii henry-viii hirsch-library history history-book-club holiday holiday-fun hollywood home homemfah homeso-different-so-appealing houston howe hurricane-harvey icaa ikat ima-hogg impressionism indian-art instagram interactive ipads islamic italian japanese-art jazz john-biggers joshua-reynolds kenwood kids king kodak kusama latin latin-america latin-american latin-american-art latino-art latin-wave latinx laura-israel learning-and-interpretation livestream love mail manet maria-fernanda-cardoso masterpiece mastersons mayan-art media meditation mending-craft-and-community mexican-film mexican-modernism mexico mfa-cafe mfah mfah-book-club mfah-films mfah-in-the-community mfah-staff modern modernism monet movie movies movies-houstonians-love mueck mueckmfah museum museum-education music native-american-art nature new nhprc now-on-view now-playing organic oscar-de-la-renta oscars painting paintings paint-the-revolution paris paul-thomas-anderson peacock-in-the-desert-the-royal-arts-of-jodhpur-india peacockmfah persian persian-art photographs photography picasso politics portrait portraits pose prints prints-and-drawings programs queen-victoria radical rebel-jester-mystic-poet recipe rembrandt-van-rijn rienzi ron-mueck rothko sampler school sculpted-in-steel sculpture self-portrait shadow-monsters shepherds short-films slow-art-day snail snapshot social soul soul-of-a-nation spain spanish spanish-art spring streaming style summer technology texas textiles thanksgiving the the-al-sabah-collection theater the-glamour-and-romance-of-oscar-de-la-renta tour trivia tudors-to-windsors valentines-day vangogh venezuelan-art video vincent-van-gogh vincent-van-gogh-his-life-in-art virtual wagner-garden-carpet watercolor winter women-filmmakers womens-history-month works-on-paper yoga zoom