October 30, 2019
The Princely Collections of Liechtenstein have acquired a 1838 Portrait of Franz Liszt by Friedrich Von Amerling. Considered the most acclaimed Austrian portraitist of the 19th century, Von Amerling studied at the Vienna Academy before travelling to London, where he was influenced by the portrait painter Thomas Lawrence and then to Paris, where he was taught by Horace Vernet. These experiences gave rise to his recognisable painting technique; the warm colours and exquisite draughtsmanship which characterise his portraits of the bourgeoisie and aristocracy.
The present portrait is most likely to be the first of the two versions that Amerling painted of the composer Franz Liszt. Liszt was the very embodiment of the Romantic spirit, and as well as his profound talent for composition he was one of the greatest pianists in history. A fascinating character, he remains the one of the most contradictory personalities of all the great composers.
Von Amerling portrays a young Liszt with flaming eyes and with his hair falling loosely in its recognisable fashion. This portrait echoes the musician's idealised Romantic image, perfectly rendered here by the delicate hand of the famed portraitist of the Viennese court.