On October 15, 2008 the hammer came down on a world record price at the Dorotheum in Vienna, resulting in the addition of an absolute masterpiece to the extensive holdings of Biedermeier painting in the Princely Collections, which number around 20 works by Friedrich von Amerling alone. Not only regarded as an icon of Viennese Biedermeier painting but also the talk of the cultural scene in Vienna and beyond in recent weeks, Amerling’s Girl with a Straw Hat is now ensured of remaining in Austria.
Painted in 1835, during Amerling’s most innovative and productive phase, this work is notable not only for its fine technique with partial use of glazing, but also for its choice of subject. As in his painting Lost in Her Dreams, which dates to the same year, Amerling here convincingly conveys the melancholy and pensive mood of the young woman portrayed, an effect emphasised by her gentle upward gaze and the way her head, propped on her right hand, is turned away from the viewer. Draped casually round her right forearm, the green ribbon of her hat accentuates and articulates the picture as does her red shawl and the broad-brimmed straw hat, seen from below. It is however not only the coloration of the painting that is so convincing but above all the subtle construction of its composition.
[Liechtenstein Museum, Vienna - Oil on canvas, 58 x 46 cm]
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