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A Winterhalter Thesis

Melbourne University LogoTuesday, 1 March 2011

A Winterhalter Thesis

Dear Friends,

In case some of you have been wondering about my recent silence, I do owe a small explanation…

Some weeks ago, an email arrived in my Inbox from the University of Melbourne:

“Dear Eugene,

Congratulations, your application for a place in the Ph.D.- Arts at the University of Melbourne has been successful.  You have been made an unconditional offer.  A signed letter of offer has been sent to the mailing address on your application.”

I stared at the email in disbelief and re-read it several times over for the news to sink in. I wanted to ensure that I understood every word, every sentence; and that there was no mistaking that, indeed, my PhD application to the University of Melbourne to work on a new thesis on Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805-1873), a nineteenth-century, German-born, internationally renowned portrait specialist, has been accepted.

This not only meant that I will be able to dedicate the next three years (if not more) of my life to studying professionally one of my favourite subjects, portraiture, and the life and art of one of my favourite practitioners of the genre, Winterhalter, I will also have an opportunity of doing so at one of the most renowned Australian universities under the care and guidance of two most respected academicians, Associate Professor Alison Inglis, and Herald Chair of Fine Arts Professor Jaynie Anderson.

However, this was not the end of it…

Roughly within a few hours another email arrived, also from the University of Melbourne:

“Dear Eugene,

Congratulations! On behalf of the University of Melbourne, I write to advise that you have been offered the following scholarship: Australian Postgraduate Award (APA)… Your scholarship offer letter is attached to this email as a PDF.”

This email stunned me completely.

If the previous email was re-read by me at least 6 times, this one was re-read at least a dozen times.

I felt justifiably and reasonably certain (as did a number of my close friends and colleagues) that, based on my excellent results for the Masters Thesis, I had a good shot at a place in the PhD program at the University of Melbourne.

I cannot possibly express the surprise and the elation that I was also granted a three year scholarship to pursue my studies.

I paced up and down my lounge room and made several circles around my dining table for the news to sink in. I was afraid to go back to my computer lest I misread the news. But, no, there was no mistaking it. The scholarship was on offer. I think I evinced the loudest yelp of joy; took a deep breath; poured myself a big glass of wine; and sunk deep into the couch to continue processing and digesting the news.

One of my most cherished wishes has been granted. Many, many years of hard work and study have been rewarded, and I will be able to pursue my Winterhalter studies at the University of Melbourne, with the University’s support to do so!

PS: I have to admit to a certain streak of superstition within me, so I kept the whole affair under wraps until such time that all paperwork was completed; until I had my initial meetings with Alison Inglis and Jaynie Anderson; and until the first scholarship payment landed in my account. It is only after that, that I felt “safe” sharing this wonderful news with the world…

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2011. This article is copyright, but the full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgment]

Paintings by Winterhalter @ Chateau de Compiegne, FrancePaintings by Winterhalter @ Chateau de Versailles, France

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4 Responses to “A Winterhalter Thesis”


  1. March 6, 2011 at 8:08 am

    That is fantastic news Eugene, congratulations and well deserved. Said with sounds of popping corks and the fizz of champaign in the background.

  2. March 7, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    I’ve just come across your site, so it feels a bit presumptuous of me, but I wanted to say big congratulations to you. Winterhalter is my favorite artist and I think it is so important the work that you are doing. Especially with his catalogue raisonné. As an artist myself, I have a very good eye for picking up on the stylistic cues that relate to proper attribution. And I often search the web for examples of his work that are new to me, and greatly I enjoy – amateur – sleuthing, seeing what is and what – isn’t – his. So I know how important is the work of professionals like yourself. There is always so much work to be done to get things right!

    Again, congratulations on your great new “adventure”!

    All the best,
    Stephen

    • March 7, 2011 at 10:00 pm

      Hi, Stephen – it’s great to hear from an artist, who is also a Winterhalter aficionado! It has been an amazing adventure thus far, and I look forward to continuing it under the guidance of prominent academics. Thank you for your comments.


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Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

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