Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, Paintings

The Princess Is Back

In March, one of the most elegant women at the Museum was forcibly escorted out of the galleries. I was there and saw the whole thing.

Princess Leonilla, who’d been on constant view since the Getty Center opened in 1997, was wheeled away (very gently—here is evidence) to make room for a new arrival, J.M.W. Turner’s Modern Rome-Campo Vaccino.

Visitors were quick to notice the princess’s departure and demand to know when she’d be back. So, good news: she’s taken up residence just one room over from her former home, in Gallery W201.

Portrait of Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn by Franz Xaver Winterhalter in Gallery W201 at the Getty Center

Checking out her new digs: Portrait of Leonilla, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1843. Oil on canvas, 56 x 83 1/2 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 86.PA.534

It’s true that the princess has to put up with a smaller wall than she presided over before. But she was a woman renowned for her intellect as well as her beauty, and I like to think she’s having a blast getting to know her new neighbors, which include a Roman emperor, an exotic horseman, a brooding Romantic, and a racy trio of lovers.

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      The Union Oil Center was completed in 1958 and became the highest building in downtown Los Angeles (mostly thanks to the convenient hill it is situated upon). 

      This neighborhood became known for the 19th century oil boom. However, come the ’90s, the building was up for demolition. Saved by Hollywood, this building became the Los Angeles Center Studios complete with a “vertical backlot.” What other SoCal oil buildings have transformed in time? The Huntington has one.  

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      Union Oil Center, 1957, Julius Shulman. Getty Research Institute. Julius Shulman Photography Archive.

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