Emperor Francis I of Austria (1832) by Friedrich von AmerlingAlte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
In the autumn of 1832, a massive new portrait of the Holy Roman Emperor was unveiled at the palace in Vienna. It was painted by Friedrich Von Amerling, one of Europe's most famous portrait painters. Everybody was expected to love it.
Instead, it nearly got Von Amerling beheaded. The Empress hated it.
Because von Amerling’s work depicted the 64-year-old Emperor Francis as hunched and haggard. His expression shows a shade of bitterness.
A huge crown, which you can also see on this study for the portrait, weighed down his head, emphasizing his age and the toll the position had taken on his body and spirit.
Traditionally, painters were expected to cover up a ruler’s blemishes and signs of weakness. But Von Amerling chose to go with #NoFilter. The painting looked like a #WokeUpThisWay selfie (but a real one, not a stealth-makeup one).
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz