The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The German Emperor Franz I. Stephan, Maria Theresia and their Children,
  • Antonio Bencini (c. 1710 - after 1780)
  • After Martin van Meytens (1695 - 1770)
  • The German Emperor Franz I. Stephan, Maria Theresia and their Children,
  • Austria
  • 1760
  • Miniature
  • Painted on vellum
  • Image size: 25.2 x 23.4 cm
    Frame size: 47.6 x 35.5 cm
  • Inscription: 'M (double eagle) T / AH B.G / MORIAMUR / PRO REGE / NOSTRA'
    Inscription: 'FI (double eagle) IMP / LO GER / 1760'
    Inscription: 'Francis Emperor / of Germany, son of / Leopold Duke of Loraine, Born 1708-In 1736 / Married Maria / Theresa - Archduchess / of Austria- / Queen of Hungary / And Bohemia and / Empress of Germany / Daughter of Charles 6th. / and Elizabeth Christina / of Brunswick Wolfenbuttel / Francis 1st. and Maria / Theresa had Sixteen / Children - amongst / whom was the Unfortunate / Maria Antoinette. / also Joseph 2nd. who / succeed (sic) his Father as / Emperor of Germany / Painted by F. P. Mignarde / on the Right hand of the / Emperor is the / Portrait of Maira Antoinette / on the Left of the Empress / the portrait of Joseph 2nd.'
  • P758
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The miniature is a portrait of the German Emperor Franz I Stephan (1708-1765; Emperor from 1745), his wife Maria Theresia, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia (1717-1780), and thirteen of their children, with the main entrance to Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna in the background.

    The miniature is based on a group portrait of the imperial family which the Swedish painter Martin van Meytens painted in several variations between 1752 and 1756. Four versions of Meyten’s portrait are known, all of which are based on the same design. The groups of the Emperor, the Empress and their eldest children on both sides are identical, whereas the group of the younger children was changed and adapted according to the actual number of children of the imperial family at the respective times.

    The date of the miniature, given on the back of the Emperor’s throne, accords with the number of children who were alive at the time but not necessarily with their ages. The youngest children would have been visibly older by 1760 which indicates that the miniature was based on already existing material.

    Nothing is known about the provenance of the miniature. A long inscription on the back, probably in the hand of Sir Richard Wallace, identifies the sitters and (wrongly) identifies the painter as ‘F.P. Mignarde’, probably because of Pierre Mignard’s (1612-1695) much earlier multi-figures portraits of the French Royal Family. The miniature must have been acquired primarily for its historical importance as one of the early portraits of the future Marie-Antoinette.