Franz Xavier Winterhalter was born in the small village of Mensenschwad in Germany.
Winterhalter studied painting at the academy of Monaco. In 1835, after Winterhalter painted portrait of Grand Duke Leopold of Baden,he was appointed his court painter. With that portrait painting his international career was launched. The royal families of England, France, and Belgium all commissioned their portraits from Winterhalter. Under Napoleon III, Winterhalter became the chief portrait-painter of the imperial family and court of France. Among his many regal sitters was also Queen Victoria.
Winterhalter first visited England in 1842, and returned several times to paint Victoria, Albert and their growing family, he did at least 120 paintings for them.
Winterhalter also painted a few portrait paintings of the aristocracy in England, mostly members of court circles. Russian aristocratic visitors to Paris also liked to have their portraits executed by the famous master. Although Winterhalter never received high praise for his paintings from serious critics, his royal patrons highly appreciated his ability “to create the image his sitters wished or needed to project to their subjects.”
Franz Xavier Winterhalter died in Frankfurt in 1873.