Johann Heinrich Schröder
Königin Luise von Preußen
Oil on canvas (relined). 36 x 28 cm.
This half-length portrait depicts Luise in a white chemise dress, her head turned to the left in profile. She wears a cornflower-blue shawl wrapped lightly around her body from her left arm to her right shoulder. The rendering of the face is of impressive liveliness, the dark blonde hair, coiffed "à la grecque", is drawn with the utmost delicacy.
This style portraying Luise was replicated perhaps more than any other of the portraits painted during her lifetime by Schröder himself (mostly as a pastel) or by other artists.
The origin of Schröder's first version, which has not been clearly identified to date, is attested to by a letter from the Queen to her husband dated 26th May 1800: "After my bath my brothers visited me [...] I got dressed and at 11 o'clock I sat opposite Mr Schröder, who, by the way, is coming back again today." Professor Börsch-Supan assumes that this prime version was drawn in pastels, a technique that is easier to execute.
Although this is perhaps the best-known type of portrait of the queen, mainly due to an engraving by Ferdinand Ruscheweyh (1804), a version by J. H. Schröder in his own hand is rare.
The last record of a pastel was in an auction at Henrici's in Berlin on 18 September 1922.
This rectangular portrait is set into a frame with an oval cut-out typical of works by the painter.
Prof. Dr. Helmut Börsch-Supan, Berlin, 27.10.2020.