Author Topic: Empress Elisabeth, Part I  (Read 365476 times)

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Offline Martyn

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Re: Empress Elisabeth, Part I
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2004, 05:31:09 AM »
Joan Haslip in her book 'The Lonely Empress' has this to say about the Winterhalter portraits
"Two portraits by Winterhalter, both painted in 1865, show us Elizabeth at the age of twenty-eight.  The artist , whom the Emperor describes as 'a strange independent man', appears to have pleased the Empress, and in pleasing her succeeded in capturing on canvas her shy mysterious smile, her almost  magical charm.   In a vaporous white ball dress, studded with stars, and diamond stars in her hair, she appears ethereally beautiful, elusive and intangible.  Looking at this portrait one understands why Francis Joseph could refuse her nothing, why wounded soldiers in hospital begged for her picture to hang above their beds, and peasants in Hungary burnt candles to her image.  When Winterhalter brought his first sketches back to Paris and showed them to Eugenie, the French Empress, who for the last decade had been recognised as the arbiter of elegance and beauty, generously and unhesitatingly acclaimed the Austrian Empress, twelve years her junior, as 'the loveliest crowned head in Europe'."
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Martyn »
'For a galant spirit there can never be defeat'....Wallis Windsor

'The important things is not what they think of me, but what I think of them.'......QV

Offline Martyn

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Re: Empress Elisabeth, Part I
« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2004, 05:37:15 AM »
On page 180 she continues:
"Winterhalter's second portrait of Elizabeth was commissioned by the Emperor for his private study, where it remained to the day of his death.  Today (in 1964) the orginal is at Persenberg castle in possession of the Empress' grandson, the Archduke Hubertus Salvator, and only a copy remains in the Hofburg.  It shows us Elizabeth in a simple white dressing gown, with her long hair hanging down in two shining plaits."
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Martyn »
'For a galant spirit there can never be defeat'....Wallis Windsor

'The important things is not what they think of me, but what I think of them.'......QV

Offline brnbg aka: liljones1968

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Re: Empress Elisabeth, Part I
« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2004, 07:43:09 AM »
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Brian thanks so much for the information about the black dress; you're right that train is immense and must have been so difficult to handle.  it is abit of a mystery why it has such a long train - after all it would appear to be an ordinary toilette (could be for mourning, although Elisabeth was inordinately fond of black) and not a court dress.  Any thoughts?


that black gown is one of Elisabeth's court-gowns, from the later-half of her life.    the train is so long because it's the length required by the Austrian Imperial Court.     just as it was at the Imperial Court of Russia, each level of the nobility had certain "requirements" it had to fulfill with regards to dress when attending officicial receptions, balls, whatever.        the trains of both Russian grand duchesses and Austrian archduchesses, were to be of a certain length;  ladies-in-waiting for both courts were somewhat shorter than those of the imperial ladies they were attatched to; maids-of-honor's trains were shorter than those of the ladies-in-waiting; etc.

actually, every court in europe had similar rules.    

in the case of this gown, it is from the period in Elisabeth's life when she had divested herself of the greater part of her jewelry and, generally, wore only black.    with this gown she would probably have worn her rope/s of black pearls (she also had a tiara of black diamonds she wore when the occasion required).  

the pic i posted shows the skirt paired with the high-necked bodice.    many gowns of this era were made with 2 bodices, one was often high-necked (generally for daytime functions or more somber occasions); the other bodice was cut along the evening line....with a lowsquare neckline, or more often, off-the-shoulder, suitable for court functions, balls etc......  


« Last Edit: February 28, 2011, 06:35:47 AM by Svetabel »
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Offline brnbg aka: liljones1968

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Re: Empress Elisabeth, Part I
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2004, 07:50:51 AM »
it just occurred to me that this particular hofkleid could, very well, have been meant to be worn during official court-mourning.    

for that matter, the high-necked-bodice, being absolutely covered in jet-beaded-lace, i'd venture to guess is almost certainly meant for court-mourning, while the low-necked bodice would have been meant for somewhat less somber occasions.

that's my guess, anyway  ;)   ;D
"when i die, i hope i go like my grandfather --
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like the passengers in his car."

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Offline pers

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Re: Empress Elisabeth, Part I
« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2004, 09:16:20 AM »
Could you please post more photographs from latter part of her life?
Then has anyone read "The secret of an Empress" by Countess Zanardi Landi?  I thought it is a very well written book from a subjective perspective for which I do not think, one can fault the authoress...

Silja

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Re: Empress Elisabeth, Part I
« Reply #20 on: December 20, 2004, 11:07:33 AM »
I've seen that photo of the two elderly ladies before, but I really doubt it shows the empress. She doesn't at all resemble Elisabeth. But I have nothing to prove my opinion. I may be wrong. I'd be really interested to know more about the history of that photograph. It looks strange anyway.

All the other photos posted above are NOT from later life but from the 1860s. There are very many photos of the empress from that period.  Of course there are also those snapshots from the 1890s, but you can't recognize any details on those.

Silja

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Re: Empress Elisabeth, Part I
« Reply #21 on: December 20, 2004, 11:08:50 AM »
Hamann's Reluctant Empress is THE key biography.

Offline brnbg aka: liljones1968

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Re: Empress Elisabeth, Part I
« Reply #22 on: December 20, 2004, 12:17:22 PM »
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Hamann's Reluctant Empress is THE key biography.



i agree....to a point.     some aspects of it are somewhat out-dated.

have you, by any chance, read DEATH BY FAME by andrew sinclair?
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"when i die, i hope i go like my grandfather --
peacefully in my sleep; not screaming & in terror,
like the passengers in his car."

-- anonymous
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Offline Martyn

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Re: Empress Elisabeth, Part I
« Reply #23 on: December 20, 2004, 01:40:15 PM »
Brian thank you for clearing up the question about the black dress and its extensive train.  it had never occurred to me that it could be a court dress due to the high neckline and sleeves; if I had thought more carefully I might have realised that it could well be a toilette for court mourning.  I love those dresses that have two bodices - they are so versatile.  They do look completely different depending on which bodice is worn.
Have you ever seen the Visconti film 'Ludwig'?  The costumes were designed by Piero Tosi, a very famous and talented designer who worked primarily with Visconti and Zeffirelli; the film has several scenes in which Elisabeth comes to visit her cousin Ludwig and his various building projects (if I remember correctly).  Each time we see her she is dressed in black; upon close inspection each of these wonderful black costumes is subtly different - and each one incredibly beautiful.
I have to say that the photos of Elisabeth dressed in velvet and fur are simply the epitome of glamour, and very hard to equal.
'For a galant spirit there can never be defeat'....Wallis Windsor

'The important things is not what they think of me, but what I think of them.'......QV

Offline Martyn

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Re: Empress Elisabeth, Part I
« Reply #24 on: December 21, 2004, 02:35:38 PM »
Elisa thank you so much for the information about the Hofburg 'Sisi' museum.  I am really amazed that that image is of her death mask; is it really as gaunt as it looks?
This is the account of Elisabeth's death according to Joan Haslip:
"According to Countess Sztaray they had almost reached the landing stage, when a man suddenly collided with them.  They stepped aside to make way for him and to her horror the lady-in-waiting saw him raise a fist against the Empress, knocking the wite parasol out of her hand and causing her to fall backwards with her head knocking against the pavement.  It all happened so quickly that the Countess heard herself screaming before she knew exactly what had happened.  A cab driver and the hotel porter who had witnessed the scene and immediately alerted the police came to their rescue.  The Empress was helped to her feet.  Though she was flushed and agitated  and walked with difficulty she insisted she was not hurt, 'only frightened by that horrible man'.  The porter suggested she should return to the hotel, but after straightening her hat and shaking the dust off her clothes, she decided to go on board, and she had barely crossed the gangway, when she suddenly turned deathly white and turning to Irma Sztaray said 'give me your arm quickly, I am going to fall'.  Irma threw her arms around her , a man servant hurried to help and from a distance Irma heard the porter calling from the shore ' the assassin has been caught'.  It was only then it dawned on her that her mistress had been murdered.
Elizabeth fainted, and the Captain, not realising who she was, advised the Countess to have her taken back on shore as the boat was due to start.  But Irma Sztaray still hoped to get her mistress back to Territet to her own doctor and her own attendants.  The Captian offered his cabin, but one of the passengers, who happened to have been a nurse, said it was better for her to be in the open air.  So they carried the Empress on to an upper deck and tried to revive her with water and sugar soaked in alchohol.  Slowly she opened her eyes, the eyes of a dying woman.  The ghost of a smile passed over her face.  She whispered 'What is it?' then sank back into unconsciousness.  'Rub her breast', commanded the nurse and it was only when the Empress's bodice was unbuttoned that Irma saw a brownish stain on her chemise with a little hole in the middle and a tiny wound on the breast with a small clot of blood.  'The Empress has been murdered' she cried, but the boat had already started and the noise of the engines drowned her voice.
When the Captain was told of the identity of his dying passenger, he ordered the boat to return to Geneva.  An improvised stretcher of two oars and some deck chairs brought the Empress back to the Beau-Rivage.  She was till breathing, but the breathing was rapidly deteriorating into a death rattle.  And the doctor summoned to the hotel, told her weeping lady-in-waiting that there was no hope of her recovery.  She had only lived so long because the weapon which pierced her breast and entered her heart was so narrow and the wound so small that the heart only stopped gradually to beat, which was why she had been able to walk on to the boat without realising what had happened to her.  A priest administered the last sacraments, but she died without regaining consciousness.  Fate had been kind to Elizabeth in answering her prayers.  She had died far from her loved ones and death took her unaware."
'For a galant spirit there can never be defeat'....Wallis Windsor

'The important things is not what they think of me, but what I think of them.'......QV

Silja

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Re: Empress Elisabeth, Part I
« Reply #25 on: December 21, 2004, 03:45:01 PM »
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the erotic value of women's hair; only young girls were permitted to wear their hair loose - even young unmarried women were expected to appear in public with their hair dressed in a style, that is to say contained in some fashion.  Both these portraits were intended to be seen if not just by their husbands, then by a limited few; images of one's queen or empress 'en deshabille' and with their hair unbound simply were not commensurate with their exalted position.


Yes, indeed. Loose hair stood for "nakedness" in those days, so those two portraits of Sisi were quite scandalous.
Even more so as one of them could be seen by any person granted an audience with the emperor. So the/these painting(s) gave some cause for gossip.

Janet_W.

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Re: Empress Elisabeth, Part I
« Reply #26 on: December 21, 2004, 04:34:13 PM »
Yes, and of course wearing your wavy long hair in front of your lightly clothed body suggests, all the more, a state of nakedness.  :o

Add to Elisabeth's provacative personna her distant attitude toward her husband, as well as the the coddling relationship with her son, and . . . well, no wonder Rudolph had issues . . .

Offline crazy_wing

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Re: Empress Elisabeth, Part I
« Reply #27 on: December 21, 2004, 05:26:24 PM »
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Yes, and of course wearing your wavy long hair in front of your lightly clothed body suggests, all the more, a state of nakedness.  :o

Add to Elisabeth's provacative personna her distant attitude toward her husband, as well as the the coddling relationship with her son, and . . . well, no wonder Rudolph had issues . . .


Sisi was rather rebellious.  These portraits with her hair down was her way to rebel against traditions too.  

i read that the 2nd one with her hair tied in a knot is her favorite...anybody know where she put the painting?

And rudolph, poor him since he inherited his wittlsbach's eccentricity!  He was trying to reach out to his mother before he commited suicide but she rejected him.  So sisi felt guilty for the rest of her life.  Sisi always blamed her mother-in-law taking her son away but when Sophie died, he was still quiet young.  His father wasn't particularily closed to him either.  You can imagine how bad Rudolph felt.  

Offline Martyn

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Re: Empress Elisabeth, Part I
« Reply #28 on: December 21, 2004, 05:41:22 PM »
Brian that is so interesting about the death mask!  It is difficult to say whether that image is of the cast itself or the inside of the cast....Having had my face cast, I have to admit that the end result is invariably eerie.  I have kept my face cast in a box at work; I keep meaning to turn it into a garden ornament, like a gargoyle or something (heck, I must be ugly!)
'For a galant spirit there can never be defeat'....Wallis Windsor

'The important things is not what they think of me, but what I think of them.'......QV

Offline crazy_wing

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Re: Empress Elisabeth, Part I
« Reply #29 on: December 21, 2004, 05:54:44 PM »
I c, so is the one with her profile also in FJ's study?