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High Society: The Portraits of Franz X. Winterhalter

Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-1873) was the most renowned portraitist of the courts of Europe during his day, depicting the elegance and opulence of his aristocratic sitters with an unrivalled brilliance of technique and sensitivity of touch.  His genius at capturing a likeness and portraying his sitters as they wished to see themselves soon gained him such acclaim that he became the court painter to King Louis-Philippe, to Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie, as well as Queen Victoria’s favorite portraitist.  For an entire generation it seemed that “every august head appears to require consecration by Winterhalter’s brush” (A. Stevens), by this ultimate court painter.


5:30-6:45 pm: Mansion and Ingenue to Icon open for touring
6-6:30 pm: Curator Wilfried Zeisler on-station by our Winterhalter portrait in the French Drawing Room
6:15-6:45 pm: Members-only reception with the speaker
7-8 pm: Lecture
8 pm: Book Plate Signing: High Society is available for pre-order from the Museum Shop, and Helga Kessler Aurisch is happy to sign book plates.

About the Speaker

Helga Kessler Aurisch was born in Germany and moved to New York at the age of ten.  She attended Smith College and subsequently pursued graduate studies at the University of Vienna, Austria, and at the University of Freiburg, Germany, where she received her M.A. and Ph. D. in art history.  In 1978 and 1988 respectively, she was the recipient of the Irene Lewisohn Fellowship and the Polaire Weissman Fellowship of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.  She joined the staff of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 2004.

At the MFAH she has organized or acted as organizing and co-curator for numerous exhibitions of French and German 19th century art. She has published widely and lectures frequently on 19th and early 20th century European art and culture.

About the Frederick J. Fisher Lecture

This is the fourth annual lecture honoring the legacy of Hillwood’s former executive director, Frederick J. Fisher, who served for twenty years (1990-2010).


Lectures and Talks

Thursday, June 7, 2012 - 9:45am

Engage with people and ideas through programs that explore historic themes with contemporary thinkers. Encounter works of art up close in the intimate and personalized spaces of Hillwood’s Mansion and Gardens during gallery talks. 

Delve deeper into intriguing topics of art, fashion, design, and history with Hillwood’s curators, horticulturists, staff, distinguished experts, and international scholars, at study days, lectures and book talks.

Member Events

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - 4:45pm

Membership at Hillwood offers more than free access to the estate and a Museum Shop discount. Members enjoy advanced reservations and discounts on programs and lectures, private receptions, and special member only events such as exhibition openings, tours, and field trips. Join the Hillwood community today!

  • Portrait of Emperess Eugénie
    Oil on canvas
    54.5 x 43 in (138 x 109 cm)
    Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens 51.11

  • Full length portrait of the Duke of Saxe-Cobourgh Gotha, Leopold I,
    ©RMN – Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY
  • Empress Elisabeth
    Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY
  • Empress Eugénie with her Ladies-in-Waiting
    ©RMN-Grand Palais (domaine de Compiègne)
  • Portrait of Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn
    © J. Paul Getty Museum