The J. Paul Getty Museum

Portrait of Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn

Object Details


Portrait of Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn


Franz Xaver Winterhalter (German, 1805 - 1873)






Oil on canvas

Object Number:



142.2 × 212.1 cm (56 × 83 1/2 in.)

See more

See less

Object Description

In a daring pose reminiscent of harem scenes and odalisques, the princess Leonilla of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn reclines on a low Turkish sofa on a veranda overlooking a lush tropical landscape. Only her unassailable social position made it possible for Franz Xaver Winterhalter to use such a sensual pose for a full-length portrait in Paris in 1843.

Known for her great beauty and intellect, the princess is resplendent in a luxurious gown of ivory silk moiré with a pink sash around her waist. A deep purple mantle wraps around her back and falls across her smooth arms. Under carefully arched eyebrows, her heavy lidded eyes gaze languidly at the viewer while she artfully toys with the large pearls around her neck. Winterhalter contrasted sumptuous fabrics and vivid colors against creamy flesh to heighten the sensuality of the pose, the model, and the luxuriant setting.

1843 - 1918

Leonilla, princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, 1816 - 1918 (Lausanne, Switzerland), commissioned from the artist, 1843; by inheritance within the Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn family, 1918.

1918 -

Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn Family, by inheritance to Alexander Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn.

1985 - 1986

Artemis Fine Arts Ltd. (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986.

Franz Xaver Winterhalter and the Courts of Europe, 1830-70 / Franx Xaver Winterhalter et les cours d'Europe de 1830 à 1870 (October 30, 1987 to May 7, 1988)
  • National Portrait Gallery (London), October 30, 1987 to January 10, 1988
  • Musée du Petit Palais (Paris), February 11 to May 7, 1988
Franz Xaver Winterhalter (November 28, 2015 to January 15, 2017)
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, April 17 to August 14, 2016
Getty Highlights: 19th-Century Paintings and Sculptures (October 19, 2021 to January 9, 2022)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 19, 2021 to January 9, 2022

Wild, Franz. Nekrologe und Verzeichnisse der Gemälde von Franz & Hermann Winterhalter (Zurich: Hofer & Burger, 1894), p. 37.

Ruhmer, Eberhard, ed. Neue Pinakothek: Erläuterungen zu den ausgestellten Werken (Munich: Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, 1981), p. 369, no. L.1790, ill., entry by Eberhard Ruhmer.

Heilmann, Christopher. Neue Pinakothek München (Munich and Zurich: Schnell & Steiner, 1984), pp. 37, 68-69, no. 32, ill.

Artemis: Consolidated Audited Annual Report 1985-1986 (January 1987), pp. 26-27, pl. 10, cover ill.

"Acquisitions/1986." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 15 (1987), p. 183, no. 46, ill.

Ormond, Richard, and Carol Blackett-Ord, eds. Franz Xaver Winterhalter and the Courts of Europe, 1830-70, exh. cat. (London: National Portrait Gallery, 1987), pp. 31, 92, 185-86, no. 20, ill., entry by Richard Ormond; p. 189, under no. 26, entry by Richard Ormond; p. 229, app., nos. 79, 80.

Dorment, Richard. "Past Master of the Art of Royal Flattery." The Daily Telegraph (November 3, 1987), p. 16.

Piper, David. "Glamorous Images of Feminine Elegance." Financial Times (November 3, 1987), p. 23.

Howard, Jeremy. "Winterhalter and the Courts of Europe 1830-1870: National Portrait Gallery." Arts Review 39, no. 23 (November 20, 1987), p. 823.

Coignard, Jérôme. "Exposition Winterhalter: violettes impériales." Beaux arts magazine, no. 55 (March 1988), pp. 40-41, ill.

Shone, Richard. Review of Franz Xaver Winterhalter and the Courts of Europe, 1830-70. London and Paris. Burlington Magazine 130, no. 1019 (February 1988), p. 152.

Hurel, Roselyne, and René Davray-Piekolek. "Franz Xaver Winterhalter et les cours d'Europe de 1830 à 1870." Petit Palais exposition, no. 16 (February 1988), p. 1, ill.

Ormond, Richard, and Carol Blackett-Ord, eds. Franx Xaver Winterhalter et les cours d'Europe de 1830 à 1870, exh. cat. (Paris: Petit Palais, 1988), pp. 31, 92, 186, no. 20, ill., entry by Richard Ormond; p. 189, under no. 26, entry by Richard Ormond; p. 229, app., nos. 79, 80.

Ferrier, Jean-Louis. "Un peintre bien en cour." Le Point, no. 806 (February 29, 1988), p. 11, ill.

Mendogni, Pier Paolo. "Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Ritrattista delle Regine." Gazzetta di Parma (April 10, 1988), ill.

Grèce, Michel de. Portrait et séduction (Paris: Chêne, 1992), pp. 78-79, ill.

Gere, Charlotte. Nineteenth Century Interiors: An Album of Watercolors (London: Thames and Hudson, 1992), pp. 109-10, 162, under no. W26.

Vaisse, Pierre. "Between Convention and Innovation-the Portrait in France in the Nineteenth Century." In Degas Portraits, exh. cat. Felix Baumann and Marianne Karabelnik, eds. (Zurich: Kunsthaus, with Merrell Holberton, 1994), p. 123.

Scarisbrick, Diana. Chaumet: Master Jewellers since 1870 (Paris: Alain de Gourcuff, 1995), p. 130, fig. 26.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 136, ill.

Ribeiro, Aileen. Ingres in Fashion: Representations of Dress and Appearance in Ingres's Images of Women (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1999), pp. 211-12, fig. 171.

Eismann, Ingeborg. Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-1873): Der Fürstenmaler Europas (Petersberg: Michael Imhof, 2007), pp. 56-57, fig. 34.

Burlion, Emmanuel. Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1805-1873 (Gouesnou: AGN, 2011), pp. 36, 59, no. 277.W.F.X.

Fredericksen, Burton B. The Burdens of Wealth: Paul Getty and His Museum (Bloomington: Archway Publishing, 2015), p. 281.

Kessler Aurisch, Helga, Laure Chabanne, Tilmann von Stockhausen, and Mirja Straub, eds. High Society: The Portraits of Franz Xaver Winterhalter, exh. cat. (Stuttgart: Arnoldsche Art Publishers, with Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Augustinermuseum, and Palais de Compiègne, 2015), pp. 124-25, no. 34, ill., entry by Helga Kesller Aurisch and Jane Ellen Evans.

Burlion, Emmanuel. Franz Xaver & Hermann Winterhalter (Brest: Ouestélio, 2016), pp. 58, 86, 151, no. 376.

Education Resources
Education Resources

Education Resource




Picture a Character

Students write descriptions and use a variety of media to create portraits of characters from the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts; History–Social Science


Three/Five-Part Lesson

Looking at Portraits Lesson 1: What Do Portraits Communicate?

Students will make connections between their personal experiences and a work of art and use visual analysis to describe a portrait.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts; ESL (English as a Second Language)

Adult Learners

Single Class Lesson