Martin van Meytens the Younger (Swedish, 16951770)
Oil on canvas; 90 1/8 x 75 in. (228.9 x 190.5 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Nate B. Spingold, 1950 (50.50)
Meytens's father had emigrated from Holland to Stockholm, where Martin was born. He moved to Paris in 1717 and worked there primarily as a portrait-miniaturist. He traveled widely in Germany, Italy, and Austria before accepting in 1731 the position of official painter at the imperial court in Vienna. The sitter, Count Durazzo, was a Genoese diplomat who arrived in Vienna in 1749. A year later, he married a socially prominent eighteen-year-old Viennese beauty, Ernestine Aloisia Ungnad von Weissenwolff. As director of the imperial theaters from 1754 until 1764, Durazzo promoted the German composer Christoph Willibald Gluck's reform of Italian opera. This double portrait probably dates to the early 1760s, shortly before the Durazzos departed for Venice. A certain elegant rigidity of form is typical of Martin van Meytens's work, as is the magnificent lace with which the costumes are embellished.
Regretably, Swedish painting is not well represented in the Museum's collection. The picture does, however, demonstrate the degree to which music, the visual arts, and society were international in the eighteenth century.