Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
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Elena Pavlovna Bibikova by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1860 Russia, the Walters Art Museum
Although born a peasant in the Black Forest region of southwestern Germany, Winterhalter became the foremost portraitist of European royalty and nobility. Hélène Bibikoff was initially married to Prince Esper A. Belosselsky-Belozersky and subsequently to Prince Kotschoubey, the son of the chancellor of the Russian empire. A woman of great wealth, even by the standards of her time, the Princess travelled extensively, mingling in the European courts, and entertaining lavishly. Her palace on the Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg, was the setting for balls that rivaled those of the court in all its grandeur. She is reported to have maintained her role as a social leader at the imperial court with autocratic zeal. Winterhalter has depicted her in one of his customary formats, three-quarter length, nearly life-size, and painted against an overcast sky. She wears a black silk gown, black lace, and jewelry, including a necklace of large pearls, a pearl brooch with a large pendant pearl, a flexible, serpentine bracelet, and several rings.