Johann Heinrich Tischbein (Attributed)

Portrait Of A Lady With Forget-Me-Nots

Johann Heinrich Tischbein (Attributed)

Portrait Of A Lady With Forget-Me-Nots

This beautiful late 18th-century portrait attributed to German artist Johann Heinrich Tischbein The Elder (1722-1789) depicts a young lady holding forget-me-nots.

Exquisitely attired in a lavish pink dress, she’s the personification of elegance. In her right hand, a small posy of forget-me-nots, a symbol of enduring love and devotion.

The inclusion of flowers in Tischbein’s portraits was designed to communicate the characteristics of the sitter. Roses are frequently seen, as they convey love, but forget-me-nots are less obvious so were probably requested by the lady herself. They relate to a German story of chivalry involving a knight and his beloved.

Legend has it that, while the pair were strolling alongside a river, the lady noticed a delicate spray of blue flowers, which were about to be dragged under and lost forever. Raising her concerns, the knight dived into the water to save them but was swept to his death as a result. Realising his fate, he called out ‘forget me not’ (in German) before disappearing from view. Distraught, the mournful lady chose to wear them for the rest of her life in honour of his abundant courage.

So with this in mind, what is our lady trying to say about her character? Is she communicating her faithfulness, her endless admiration for her future suitor? Or is she the type of lady that would expect a comparable level of personal sacrifice.

Tischbein was a remarkable artist who worked within the highest echelons of society. Considered one of Germany’s finest 18th-century portraitists, this is an enchanting work of the highest order.

Held within a splendid reeded frame with floral corner decoration.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 26” x 32” / 66cm x 81cm
Year of creation: c. 1780
Condition: Artwork presents well. Craquelure, as you would expect, but the paint is stable. Canvas relined. Frame with some light wear.
Artist’s auction maximum: £79,120

Johann Heinrich Tischbein

Johann Heinrich Tischbein

Johann Heinrich Tischbein The Elder trained under Johann Georg von Freese, Carle van Loo and Giovanni Battista Piazzetta. He’s represented at the British Museum, Royal Collection Trust, Staedel Museum, Birmingham Museum, The Met, Harvard Art Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Learn more about Johann Heinrich Tischbein in our directory.

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