Johann Heinrich Schröder, attributed to
Portrait of Friederike Eleonore Sophie von Kalb
Chalk pastel on paper. 30 x 24 cm (in an oval surround).
Framed under glass.
Inscribed on the reverse in old handwriting: "Frau Praesidentin von Kalb / geborene Freyin von Marschall [sic!] / geboren den [no further information]/ gestorben den 1831".
Eleonore von Kalb was born in 1764, the fifth child of the Franconian baron Johann Friedrich Philipp Marschalk von Ostheim. Her older siblings included Charlotte von Kalb, who achieved fame through her close relationships with the poets Friedrich von Schiller and Jean Paul. At the age of 16, Eleonore married Johann August Alexander von Kalb (1747-1814), a Weimar chamber president who was more than twice her age. The hope of a good match was not fulfilled, however, as the president of the chamber had high debts and not only burned through his own fortune, but also that of his young wife. Nevertheless, Eleonore's older sister Charlotte was married just a year later to the younger brother of the chamber president, Major Heinrich Julius Alexander von Kalb (1752-1806), who had just returned from the American War of Independence against the English. This marriage, however, seems to have been even more unhappy than Eleonore's: Heinrich von Kalb shot himself in Munich in 1806, while Charlotte lived in Berlin from 1804, where she earned her living as a haberdasher and tea merchant and died in poverty in 1843. Her younger sister Eleonore, depicted here, had already died twelve years earlier.
This charming portrait in pastels barely hints at the sitter's unhappy family life: Eleonore is rendered against a neutral background, in a graceful pose and wearing a bright blue gown. The hairstyle suggests that the pastel can be dated to the 1790s.
Private collection, Baden-Württemberg.
For more information about this sitter see the biography of Sister Charlotte von Kalb by Ursula Naumann (Stuttgart 1985).