Johann Heinrich Schröder, attributed to
Portrait of Crown Prince Frederick William III of Prussia
Pastel on card. 69.5 x 55 cm.
Johann Heinrich Schröder was a gifted portraitist who worked in chalk pastels. He began his apprenticeship under Johann Heinrich Tischbein in 1785 and subsequently worked as a portrait painter in Brunswick and the courts of Northern Germany, but also travelled as far as England and the Netherlands. He is documented in Berlin from 1789 - 1792, and again with some breaks from 1796 - 1806.
The majority of Schroeder's works are unsigned, and the same applies to this attributed portrait of Frederick William of Prussia. We know that the artist made a portrait of the Crown Prince on occasion of his engagement to Luise von Mecklenburg Strelitz, but this work has not yet been identified with any of the portraits known today. Two portraits of the Prince (one kept in Huis Doorn, the other whereabouts unknown, op. cit. p. 39/40 & 16) can be dated to 1790/91 due to the hairstyle. In these earlier portraits he still wears his hair in the manner of the Ancien Regime, whereas he is known to have begun wearing his hair loose, like in this portrait, as of 1793. We know this due to a drawing by Johann Friedrich Tielker (op. cit. p. 40) dated to this year. However, as Frederick William is not yet depicted as King in this work, it must be dated to pre-1797.
The detailed depiction of surface texture, the spontaneous turning of the head, the schematic landscape background, and the confident use of pastels, especially in the Prince's features, are all typical of Schröder's works and can all be observed in the portrait in Huis Doorn. Schröder is also known to have painted 5 portraits of Princess - and later Queen - Louise, whereas only the aforementioned early portraits of the Crown Prince are known.
Kaiser Firedrich Palais Berlin, room 244, inv. no. 89. - The Schaumburg-Lippe Collection. - Lempertz auction Palais Schaumburg, Bonn, possession of Viktoria, born Princess of Prussia, verh. Zoubkoff, 1929, lot 1215. - Lempertz auction, 12.11.1975, lot 246. - Private collection, Rhineland.
Cited literature: Exhib. cat.: Johann Heinrich Schröder, Preußische Porträts, Schloss Paretz 1994. - J. Thiele: Geliebte Luise. Königin von Preußen. Ihr Leben in Bildern, Berlin 2003, illus. p. 34.