"Bavarian rose" - Empress Sissi. Ceremonial portraits, drama, life (part 2)
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“Bavarian rose” – Empress Sissi. Ceremonial portraits, drama, life (part 2)

Two years later, a son was born in the family — crown Prince Rudolf, who, of course, was immediately taken under the care of his grandmother and attracted her caregivers.

Josef Neugebauer. Rudolf, crown Prince of Austria as a child
Empress Elizabeth with her two children and a portrait of the late Archduchess Sophia Frederica
Sissy, wanting a break from the quarrels and fruitless attempts to change the situation, decided to go on a trip. In this connection, it was announced that the Empress was seriously ill. How else could she explain her four-month stay in Madeira? It was only when she was away from the Palace, its intrigues and intolerable rules, and alone with herself, that she found peace and harmony. As she traveled, sissy thought of her children and her still-beloved husband, writing detailed letters and sending gifts.

Johann Haag. Empress Elizabeth of Austria with a horse in the mountains, 1873
Sissy’s private train.
All artists-her contemporaries-considered it an honor to paint a portrait of the beautiful Empress, who was humanly simple and friendly in personal communication. Of all the canvases that captured sissy, with or without cause, it would be possible to make a whole gallery: in different years of life, in different outfits, from different angles.
Franz Xaver Winterhalter. Selfportrait
Franz Xaver Winterhalter.
Selfportrait,
One thousand eight hundred sixty eight

But in 1864, and then in 1865 to write the Empress was invited to the most popular and sought-after painter of Europe Franz Xaver Winterhalter, whose brush portraits belong to almost all crowned heads and the first beauties of the XIX century. He was born in Germany, and although he was never appreciated at home, the Royal families of England, France and Belgium were happy to Commission him to portray them. His monumental paintings created a solid reputation for Franz Xaver, and lithographic copies of portraits helped to spread fame.

Sissy knew that Winterhalter’s portraits were prized for their subtle intimacy, and that his popularity among patrons was due to the master’s ability to create images that his models wanted to convey to their subjects. He was able to capture the moral and political climate of each court, approaching customers individually. Today, it would be said that his paintings could become press releases issued by a public relations specialist.
Franz Xaver Winterhalter. Elizabeth of Bavaria, Empress of Austria, wife of Emperor Franz Joseph, in a ceremonial dress with diamond stars
Elizabeth of Bavaria, Empress of Austria, wife of Emperor Franz Joseph, in a ceremonial dress with diamond stars
Franz Xaver Winterhalter
1865, 255×133 cm
He created several portraits of Elizabeth: the most famous-full-length, with diamond stars in her hair, in a dress for receptions from the ancestor of Haute couture Charles Frederick worth. By the way, the services of “personal tailor and supplier of her Majesty’s court” in France for 30 years also used the Russian Empress Maria Feodorovna (Dagmar), the mother of Nicholas II.
The other two portraits are more modest: they depict sissy with her hair down. But it was these that Franz Joseph hung in his study, one side by side, the other opposite his Desk, where they remained until the death of the Emperor. These are so-called” intimate ” portraits of Elizabeth. Although their existence was kept secret from the General public, they were beloved portraits of the ruler and spouse.

Franz Xaver Winterhalter. Portrait of Elizabeth of Bavaria, Empress of Austria, 1864 Hofburg in Vienna, Austria
Franz Xaver Winterhalter. Portrait of Elizabeth of Bavaria, 1865 Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Nature gifted Elizabeth beyond measure: beautiful appearance, slim figure, long thick hair almost to his feet, waist 51 cm … with the growth of 172 cm, she weighed about 50 kg.

There is a story that tells how Winterhalter, returning to Paris to paint another portrait of the Empress Eugenie, told her about the extraordinary beauty of sissy and about the fascinating conversations with her during the posing. Then the French “colleague” Elizabeth decided to personally make sure whether it is as good as it is said, and at the same time “measure” beauty.

Franz Xaver Winterhalter. The Empress Eugenie, 1857
Georg Martin Ignaz Raab. Portrait of Empress Elizabeth. Lviv art gallery
During the visit of sissy and her husband to Saxony, Elizabeth caused a boom, as the Queen of Saxony so reported in a letter to his Respondent: “You can not imagine the delight that caused here the beauty and charm of the Empress. I have never seen our quiet Saxons in such a state of excitement: young and old, nobles and commoners, solid gentlemen and frivolous rakes, all were crazy about her, and many still worship her. Her stay here is an epoch.”
About how painful for the most beauties were such arrangements, knew only itself Elizabeth, which again and again fled occupies from Palace on, quenching sadness in traveling.

Ferdinand von Piloty.
Ludwig of Bavaria in the coronation mantle, 1865

One of the few people with whom she met in adulthood, befriended, finding a soul mate, was her second cousin Ludwig of Bavaria. For unusual, not inherent in the behavior of monarchs, he was called “fairy king”, and after an early (40 years) mysterious death — the most tragic figure of the XIX century. He, like sissy, loved solitude, adored painting and music. Love for the works of Richard Wagner and friendship with the composer himself prompted him to decorate the newly built Neuschwanstein castle from the inside with scenes from his favorite Opera Lohengrin. On the basis of Hobbies Wagner, he became close to Elizabeth’s younger sister Sophia Charlotte, with whom he conducted a romantic correspondence and even for a while was engaged, but in 1867 suddenly broke off the engagement.
King Ludwig II with his bride Sophia of Bavaria
Sophia Charlotte Augusta of Bavaria, the bride of Ludwig II after the break of the engagement. Lithography of 1867
Sissy was offended for her sister and wrote to her mother about it: “How much I resent the king, and the Emperor too, you can imagine. There are no words for such behavior. I just don’t understand how he’s showing up in Munich now, after everything that’s happened. I am only glad that Sophia takes it so, happy, God knows, with such a man she would not.”

Christian Jank.
Neuschwanstein castle, 1883

Perhaps sissy was right: in the last years of his life, he had become increasingly aloof, secluded in Neuschwanstein. His Ministers had to search for the king in the mountains to get signatures on documents. And in the country rumors spread about his mental illness (reasons for such judgments were enough) and close “friendly” relations with men: even concrete names were called.

Edouard Manet. Execution of Emperor Maximilian I
Edouard Manet.
Execution of Emperor Maximilian, 1867

In June of the same year, another dramatic event happened in the family: Franz Joseph’s brother, Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, was shot by rebels.this moment was captured in the painting “the Execution of Emperor Maximilian” by Edouard Manet. The sad story of his wife, Charlotte of Belgium, which is not once painted all the same Winterhalter-a story that deserves a separate story.

Franz Xaver Winterhalter. Portrait of Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexicapan the Xaver Winterhalter. Charlotte of Belgium, Empress of Mexico
Franz Xaver Winterhalter. Portrait of Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico, 1864
Franz Xaver Winterhalter. Charlotte of Belgium (Empress of Mexico), 1865
Paradox: Sissi, which is enthusiastically accepted everywhere, at the Viennese court did not like. And not only for the neglect of etiquette, but also for “excessive sympathy for Hungary”: she learned the language of this country, loved the traditions and outfits. And against her mother-in-law’s wishes, she surrounded herself with court ladies of Hungarian origin.

Elizabeth of Bavaria with the ladies of the court. The Illustrated London News is probably the late 1870s or early 1880s.
Although she cared little for politics, her sincere interest in the country enabled her to influence her husband in establishing relations with Hungary. All in the same 1867 St Franz Joseph and Elizabeth were crowned in Budapest as king and Queen Hungary.

Empress Elizabeth of Austria in a dress designed by Charles Frederick Worth for her coronation as Queen of Hungary in 1867.

Coronation of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elizabeth of Austria as king and Queen of Hungary on 8 June 1867 in Buda, the capital of Hungary

Elizabeth’s coronation in Hungary in 1867

Coronation in Hungary, 1867

Empress Elizabeth of Austria in a dress designed by Charles Frederick Worth for her coronation as Queen of Hungary in 1867.

Coronation of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elizabeth of Austria as king and Queen of Hungary on 8 June 1867 in Buda, the capital of Hungary
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Franz Shriberg.
Maria Valeria of Austria (daughter of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elizabeth) as a child, 1870

A year later, the Imperial family had a daughter Maria Valeria, who immediately became a favorite of Elizabeth. It happened during sissy’s stay in his beloved Hungary: later there were rumors that the girl’s father-Hungarian count. This time Elizabeth defended the right to educate their own daughter and privala her love for this country and its culture. Perhaps she herself had taken a liking to Hungary because her mother-in-law hated her so much.

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