Josef Danhauser (Austrian, 1805-1845)
Portrait of an Unknown Woman, 1836
Oil on canvas 23 13/16 in. x 19 11/16 in. (60.48 cm x 50.01 cm)
Crocker Art Museum, gift of Alan Templeton2005.68.1 http://www.crockerartmuseum.org/education/catalog/European/zoom/index.html?zoomifyImagePath=http://www.crockerartmuseum.org/education/catalog/European/zoom/2005.68.1/&zoomifyMinZoom=-1&zoomifyX=0&zoomifyY=0&zoomifyZoom=-1&zoomifyToolbar=1&zoomifyNavWin=1&
Born in Vienna to a furniture-making family, the painter Josef Danhauser studied at the city’s Academy of Fine Arts beginning in 1820. By 1828, his growing skills had so impressed patrons that the archbishop of Eger, Hungary, made him his protégé. In subsequent years the archbishop sponsored the young artist’s trips to Venice to study the paintings of the Old Masters and commissioned his most famous religious work, the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist, for Eger Cathedral. Another commission won Danhauser a prize from the Vienna Academy in 1836, gaining the attention of the Emperor and the city’s wealthy classes.
Members of the upper-middle classes were especially enthralled by Danhauser’s skill in portraiture. One of his first portrait subjects, the young lady depicted here in the year the painter won the Academy prize, is surrounded by the attributes common in 17th-century Dutch and Flemish portraiture, including furs, a grand chair, a velvet curtain and a landscape seen in the distance at right, all of which are adapted to the smaller, half-length format. As a member of the Academy faculty from 1834, Danhauser made continuing efforts to reform the teaching curriculum, a project left incomplete at his death just over ten years later.