State portrait of King Ludwig II of Bavaria

One of the most popular portrayals of King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1886) is by the Munich painter Ferdinand von Piloty the Younger (1828-1895). The state portrait shows the twenty-year-old king after his accession to the throne in 1864. Piloty reproduces the youthful figure of the Bavarian ruler standing upright in front of the throne in full figure dressed in the Bavarian general’s uniform with blue tunic, white trousers and black riding boots. Ludwig has the ermine red coronation robe draped over him. He is wearing the House of Wittelsbach Orders, including the Order of St. George and the Collar of the Order of St. Hubert.

The throne chair in the background is mostly obscured. Parts of the backrest with laurel rim and the right leg with a replica of a lion’s paw can be seen. Behind Ludwig II a drapery is built up, on which the lozenge coat of arms with heraldic canopy and royal crown is depicted in the upper left corner. Below the coat of arms is the inscription "LUDOVICUS II./ BAVARIAE REX./ MDCCCLXV". On the right behind the king on a table is the Bavarian royal crown on a red velvet cushion. In principle, the portrait corresponds to the type of previous 19th century Bavarian ruler portraits, but the constitutional charter of 1818 is not depicted here.

In depicting the majestic and slender figure of the Bavarian king, the artist is picking up on contemporary, sometimes enthusiastic reports about the Bavarian king’s grace and appearance in the early years of his reign. With his stately height of 1.90 metres and outward appearance, Ludwig II aroused great interest among his contemporaries. The portrait was reproduced in engravings and with the help of the medium of photography, which was new at the time, numerous copies were distributed throughout the country as early as 1865.

Julia Misamer