Franz Xaver Winterhalter was a German painter and lithographer, known for his portraits of royalty in the mid-19th century. His name has become associated with fashionable court portraiture. Among his best known works are Empress Eugénie Surrounded by her Ladies in Waiting (1855) and the portraits he made of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1865). Franz Xaver Winterhalter was born in the small village of Menzenschwand, in Germany's Black Forest in the Electorate of Baden, on 20 April 1805. After attending school at a Benedictine monastery in St. Blasien, Winterhalter left Menzenschwand in 1818 at the age of 13 to study drawing and engraving. He trained as a draughtsman and lithographer in the workshop of Karl Ludwig Schüler in Freiburg im Breisgau.
Winterhalter entered court circles when in 1828 he became drawing master to Sophie Margravine of Baden, at Karlsruhe. His opportunity to establish himself beyond southern Germany came in 1832 when he was able to travel to Italy, 1833–1834, with the support of Grand Duke Leopold of Baden. In Rome he composed romantic genre scenes in the manner of Louis Léopold Robert and attached himself to the circle of the director of the French Academy, Horace Vernet. On his return to Karlsruhe he painted portraits of the Grand Duke Leopold of Baden and his wife, and was appointed painter to the grand-ducal court.