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Portrait of Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn
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Franz Xaver Winterhalter
German, 1843
Oil on canvas
56 x 83 1/2 in.
86.PA.534

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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.

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