0052 "Peintre de Sa Majesté Britannique"
Franz Adolph of Freenthal and his portrait of Maximilian Hamilton, Prince-Bishop of Olomouc
This essay examines the portrait of Maximilian von Hamilton (1714-1776), the last Prince-Bishop of Olomouc/Olmütz, painted between 1769 and 1772 by Franz Adolph of Freenthal (1721-1773), a former painter to the British royal court. The study focuses in turn on three visual motifs in Hamilton's portrait: the rhetorical gestures of the sitter, his attire and the way he is depicted, and the form of presentation and the function of the painting in the ceremonial space of the princely residence. In examining each of these motifs, account is taken of the specific visual conventions applied in this genre, and of the contemporary rules of visual rhetoric. By referencing the classical motif of modesty and moderation from antiquity, Adolph underlined the importance of the ideal of antiquity and with it "natural" speech and behaviour. He attempted to express the spirit of antiquity by comparing contemporary clothing and rhetorical gestures to those of the orators or other public figures of antiquity. In a similar way to contemporary British painters, he thus referenced models taken from antiquity, with the aim of evoking a noble past and representing the ideal of the virtue of antiquity.
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