Gottlieb Herz

Portrait Of A Lady Holding A Letter

Gottlieb Herz

Portrait Of A Lady Holding A Letter

This mid-19th-century oil painting by German artist Gottlieb Herz (1810-1897) depicts a seated lady wearing a black dress, yellow bow, and a beautifully decorated bonnet. Herz was predominantly known for his fine portraiture during the late Biedermeier period. He was of Jewish descent.

The Biedermeier period saw the epic rise of ‘new money’, the emerging middle classes. This burgeoning group of merchants, industrialists and professionals, looked to create comfortable interiors, while also retaining a degree of decorum and modesty. Portraits were a key component of this image and artists like Herz were highly sought after. Details were key - every jewel rendered to perfection, each piece of embroidery exquisitely described. While ostentation was frowned upon, it was acceptable to display the rewards of one’s success.

Following his education in Düsseldorf, Herz headed for the bustling environs of Frankfurt to meet this growing demand. It’s where he married his wife, Franziska, and produced numerous works for affluent residents. His style was underpinned by solid draughtsmanship, he could draw exceedingly well, having studied the masters during his time at the Academy. But he also added a sense of character, a slight smile, a glint in the eye, a gentle demeanour, to communicate the spirit of each sitter.

Aside from portraits, Herz was a keen philanthropist and taught drawing at the ‘Das Philanthropin’, a Jewish school designed to help children from low-income families. It recruited teachers from the local community and supported students from kindergarten through to university entrance. Dr Jakob Weil was a colleague and sat for him in 1844.

Today, he’s represented in several public collections including the University of Milan and the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt. This charming portrayal from 1849 is a fine example of his talent.

The letter is rendered with such precision that it’s almost readable.

Signed/dated and held within a gilt frame.

Learn more about Gottlieb Herz in our directory.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 15” x 17” / 38cm x 43cm
Year of creation: 1849
Provenance: Private collection, Germany.
Condition: Assessed and approved by our conservator. Canvas relined. Fine and settled craquelure, as you would expect. The paint layer is stable. Faint stretcher marks.
Our reference: BRV1827

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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