OIL PAINTING: Il Dolce far Niente, 1836
Although Queen Victoria appointed British artists to the post of Principal Painter, the efforts of Sir David Wilkie, Sir George Hayter and James Sant were supplemented by the work of certain European painters brought to the queen's attention. Such was the case with Winterhalter, who was born in Germany, but had an extremely successful career as a fashionable portrait painter based at the leading European courts. Winterhalter was essentially a peripatetic artist of a truly international status who, with the help of studio assistants, had by the end of his life amassed a considerable financial fortune. First recommended to Queen Victoria by Louise, Queen of the Belgians, Winterhalter came to England in 1842 and subsequently worked regularly for the queen and her family over the next two decades. Queen Victoria had a very high opinion of Winterhalter, admiring particularly his ability to capture a likeness and his fresh, invigorating colour. In addition, the painters dexterous brushwork and high finish were also praised, although doubts were quite rightly expressed about the accuracy of his drawing. Together with Landseer, Winterhalter provides a vivid record of Queen Victoria's court and he was responsible for many of the more important and lasting images of the queen and the Prince Consort. Winterhalter 's achievement is in many respects comparable with Van Dyck's images of the early Stuart court.