The Emperor Francis I
circa 1745, oil, canvas, 105 x 85 cm
NG S 1310, National Gallery of Slovenia, Ljubljana
The portrait represents the Emperor Francis I Stephen (born 1708 in Lunéville, died 1763 in Innsbruck). In 1729 he became Duke of Lorraine, 1732 regent of Hungary and in 1736 he married the Archduchess Maria Theresa, while her sister Maria Anna married his brother Charles. After the death of Charles VI in 1740 Maria Theresa appointed her husband co-regent in the countries which she inherited, and he was also elected Holy Roman Emperor – he was crowned in Frankfurt on 4 October 1745. Francis, who is wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece, is dressed in a richly embroidered Spanish court dress decorated with lace and is wearing a hat with ostrich feathers. On the table beside him is the imperial crown, which permits a dating of the painting after the year 1745. The style of the picture is characteristic of Meytens’ ceremonial portraits (portraits d’apparat), but the fairly mechanical execution of some details suggests that assistants from the painter’s workshop collaborated on the painting.
Restored: ZSV, Ljubljana.
Provenance: From a farmhouse in Stična; Strahl collection, Stara Loka, until 1930; Narodni muzej, Ljubljana, Inv. No. 9894; it is still unknown when the painting was entrusted to the Narodna galerija. – On the stretcher is a label with Strahl’s coat of arms and the number 345 as well as a stamp NM 89 and 9894.
Exhibitions: 1930, Ljubljana, no catalogue; 1951, Ljubljana, No. 122; 1960, Ljubljana, No. 81; 1983, Ljubljana, No. 70.
Lit.: Polec 1930b, p. 179, Cat. No. 148 (presumed to be by Fortunat Bergant: Charles VI); Cevc 1951, p. 56, Cat. No. 122 (list of works wrongly attributed to Bergant: Charles VI); Cevc 1960, p. 34–35, Cat. No. 81, Fig. 38 (Charles VI); Maria Teresa 1981, pp. 40–41, Cat. and Fig. No. II/5 (text by G. Coronini Cronberg); Zeri [& Rozman] 1983, p. 144, Cat. No. 70, Fig. 69.