Marguerite Davis; By whose estate gifted to the Minneapolis Institute of Art in 1963 (inv. no. 63.17.2).
The present work has previously been attributed to Franz Xaver Winterhalter, though a full attribution has not been attached to this impressive work. The sitter has traditionally been identified as Maria Sophie of Bavaria, Queen Consort of Naples and the Two Sicilies (1841 - 1925). The sitter bears a strong resemblance to existing portraits and photographs of the distinctive Maria Sophie. The background has been identified as the Bay of Naples, with Mount Vesuvius faintly visible at the lower left of the composition. Stylistically, this work is similar to many of the portraits of royal and noble women that are fully attributed to Winterhalter, who painted the present sitter’s sister, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, on three occasions. Many of Winterhalter’s portraits have a similar composition of an elegantly dressed lady standing in three-quarter length against a very minimal landscape or atmospheric background. Though the present work appears unfinished, the sitter’s face, pearls and the gauze-like, diaphanous qualities of her fashionable white gown have evidently been painted by a skillful hand. It is possible that the work was left unfinished by the artist because of the overthrow of Maria Sophie and her husband, King Francis II, in 1860 by revolutionist republicans under the Italian nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi. As a result, the monarchs had to suddenly flee their court at Naples.
We are grateful to Dr. Eugene Barilo von Reisberg for his assistance with the cataloguing of this work.
Lined. Finely patterned craquelure is visible throughout and concentrated along the edges. Frame abrasion visible along the top edge. Under UV: spare dots and dashes fluoresce throughout with more pronounced areas in each of the corners. The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.