This portrait was painted in September 1846, when Princess Augusta of Prussia and her husband were guests of Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle. It was commissioned by Queen Victoria, and sittings for the portrait were recorded in her journal between 26 and 29 September 1846. One of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting, the Hon. Eleanor Stanley, described Princess Augusta as a "fine-looking woman, with a well-shaped and put-on head, and beautiful brown hair, which she dresses rather oddly, with enormous wreaths put straight on her forehead, and straight across her head, like an old statue" - exactly as the Princess appears in the present portrait.
Augusta Stanley further adds in a letter to her mother from Windsor, dated 28 September 1846: "The Princess goes tomorrow; she is sitting to Winterhalter, who is rather in despair at the hurry he had been obliged to take her portrait in; but they say it is very like. She is to give him another sitting tomorrow at 8am, and goes to London after breakfast."
A great friendship was struck between Queen Victoria and Princess Augusta of Prussia, which is expressed by the Queen's commission of this fine portrait, as well as by the fact that Queen Victoria requested from Winterhalter an exact replica of this work, which is still in the Royal Collection (inv.no. RCIN 406273).
The Queen's great attachment to the Prince and Princess of Prussia manifested itself later, with the marriage in 1857 between two of their children - Prince Frederick Wilhelm of Prussia, future Emperor Frederick III Wilhelm of Germany (1831-88), and Victoria, Princess Royal (1840-1901).
The Queen commissioned from Winterhalter further portraits of Princess Augusta, including a small oval of 1853, which is still on display in the Bow Room at Buckingham Palace. Winterhalter also enjoyed extensive patronage of the Prussian Royal Family, and portraits of Princess Augusta of 1850, and in coronation robes as Queen of Prussia in 1861 were recorded in the Kaiser Wilhelm Palais in Berlin before the Second World War.
We would like to thank Eugene Barilo von Reisberg for his kind assistance in cataloguing this lot and preparing this catalogue entry.