Princess Pauline de Metternich

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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Princess Pauline Sander (1836–1921) was the wife of Prince Richard Metternich, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador at the court of Napoleon III from 1860 to 1871. Known as the ‘ambassadress of pleasure’, she was a glamorous figure in Parisian high society during the Second Empire. A pioneer of fashion, she promoted new styles of dress, including the crinoline. The Princess had already been painted by the society portraitist Franz Xaver Winterhalter, and by the French seascape artist Eugène Boudin. However, Degas, who was still a young artist, did not paint his portrait of the Princess from life. Instead, he made a partial copy of a full-length visiting card photograph of her and her husband taken around 1867. This is one of the first painted portraits to have been based on a photograph, and Degas makes no attempt to disguise its origin.

The National Gallery, London



Princess Pauline de Metternich


about 1865


Oil on canvas


H 41 x W 29 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Presented by The Art Fund, 1918

Work type



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