Author Topic: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family  (Read 181792 times)

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Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #75 on: October 19, 2009, 09:26:34 PM »
I have always thought Maria Theresa was beyond petty - although it was her prerogative as a sovereign and head of their family - when she told all members of the family to stop correspondence with Parma.  Why drag all the others into it?  But perhaps it was the only recourse she could think of.  She did write Count Mercy about how the Infanta rejected all her proposals (during Count Rosenberg's mission) and that she had commanded everyone else to stop communicating and that "we will see the results".     If she thought it would make Amalia obey her, she badly miscalculated. It appears that Amalia had never forgotten such harshness from her mother either.

As CountessKate pointed out earlier, MT basically realised she had no power to make her daughter obey her either upfront or behind the scenes so she had to show she won't take such insolence from her daughter, hence the cutting of communication.  Basically, Amalia answered that she would only make a few concessions - and subject to certain conditions - to her mother's demands.  I don't know, IMHO,  some of MT's complaints were not worthy of such fuss, such as the choosing of the lackeys and how Amalia shouldn't give orders to the cooks, squires and stable persons, etc. Those issues are on a petty, domestic level but MT wanted to regulate all aspects of her children's lives.  I think Maria Amalia was able to answer all of the complaints/demands  pretty well, explaining why she doesn't agree or why she gives orders, denying some accusations and admitting her mistakes. I was expecting her replies to be capricious (as she was widely described to be) but they were not.  I found  nothing 'wild' or capricious about what Amalia insisted on, at least judging from her replies (which are posted earlier in this thread).    But MT wanted to be obeyed and to save face, so she punished her daughter. Her daughter-in-law Isabella certainly thought MT did not make wise decisions at times, especially those taken at the height of anger.  I also think the tone of Amalia's letter was not 'conciliatory' or  even a bit 'remorseful" -- it is likely that MT took offense on that. I think Amalia was wrong in that, but after 3 years of never-ending criticisms (and accusations that were not true at times), one could hardly be in good humour.....

I've read that Caroline was also threatened (later on) by her mother that communication will be cut off but it never happened.  Perhaps Caroline conceded on certain issues and/or MT did not want another daughter to be estranged from her... also after Mimi, I think it was said that Caroline was her next favorite daughter. MT appeared to have a blind spot about her favorites, a glaring example is Mimi (who was, from many accounts, a nasty person and gained her mother's 'approval' by telling on her siblings) and also her extremely incompetent brother-in-law, Charles of Lorraine.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2009, 09:55:53 PM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #76 on: October 19, 2009, 10:18:51 PM »
Yes. Amalia was less of a favourite to MT than Mimi, who was sharp tongued. She told her mother that Amalia "lost her good looks and glamour, but her daughter was very beautiful". After years of fighting and bickering, one could really see why the Duchess of Parma looked wretched. It was her bad luck that she got Parma instead of France or Naples. I wondered about Amalia's last years. Not a lot of books picked up on that (after she was exiled from Parma).

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #77 on: October 19, 2009, 10:55:29 PM »
Well, Mimi seemed only interested to get her siblings into trouble or report bad things about them to 'score' good points with MT. Two portraits of Amalia painted after Mimi's visit to Parma do not show that Amalia lost her good looks nby 1775 --- one was the family portrait (Amalia, Ferdinand, Caroline, Louis, and Maria Antonia) painted circa 1775-1776 and the other, the one by Alexander Roslin in 1778. Roslin wasn't known to flatter his sitters, was he?  So I doubt (very much) Mimi's words.  Both potraits are posted in part I of this thread. I don't know, when Count Colloredo visited her in Parma in 1777, he reported to MT that Amalia was contented with her life there.

An English noblewoman in Rome met Amalia in 1784 in Rome and this is how she described the Duchess of Parma: "Tall and well-made, but not as handsome as the emperor.  Ill and oddly dressed, but with a certain hauteur. "  Not as good looking as Joseph II maybe but she did not seem to have lost her good looks altogether.... hmmm?  I don't think she cared much about clothes and stuff later on --having dressed oddly-- and I've read that when Joseph criticized her headdress as unbecoming she merely replied: "Oh, it is good and pretty enough for a monk!" (an obvious reference to her husband). So, the glamour might be gone---but she did not turn plain, at least by 1784. By 1991 (portrait painted by Johann Zoffany), Amalia seemed to have aged prematurely. I mean, she was only 45 years old then but looked much older and she was so thin, her hair was completely white, no trace of her good looks at all except her fabulous white skin.  I am wondering whether the personal tragedies/grief in 1789-91 were responsible for her premature aging......we saw it happening with Marie Antoinette.  

Indeed, not much was written about her exile in Prague. It seems that she went first to Venice, then Vienna, then settled into Prague.  But she was already in ill-health. I have always wondered why she settled in Prague...... perhaps she wanted to be near daughter Caroline, who visited her. The only living sibling she had in Austria by then was Archduchess Elisabeth--but didn't she stay in Linz? I think it was nice that she stayed in Prague Castle and a lot of her Italian servants went with her.  It seems that she got money from her son Louis to support her (the money that was her dowry) for Duke Ferdinand died deeply in debt due to the Napoleonic wars.   The Governor of Bohemia, Count Chotek, seemed to have taken care of her, or at least flattered her by giving fetes in her honour.  I only know that she had some form of rickets deformation, made her will, took the last sacraments and after a few days died.  Oh, I've also read that her funeral was solemn. There is a very nice B & W (young) portrait of her at Prague Castle.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2009, 11:26:03 PM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline CountessKate

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #78 on: October 25, 2009, 07:56:54 AM »
I agree, there was something rather bitter about Marie-Christine and indeed you would have thought she would have been perhaps more of a family peacemaker; however, like her mother she was not very discreet or tactful - possibly because of her privileged position she felt no need for this. 

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #79 on: October 25, 2009, 09:18:45 PM »
That's why I find it quite hard to like Marie Christine--I'm a huge fan of almost all of  Maria Theresa's daughters but so far with her beloved Mimi, I cannot say I like her...... perhaps if I read something more positive about her (there is an old biography of her but in German, I think), I will change my mind.

Horses seem to have replaced clothes in Maria Amalia's priorities. The English ambassador in Tuscany during Leopold's reign mentioned Amalia in his letters quite a lot, he said that she was the perfect Amazon and would give details of her visits to Tuscany (Florence, Pisa and Livorno). He wrote that while Amalia participated in many of the Florence's social events on her visits, the most enthusiastic participation he witnessed was on the horse-racing and that the duchess also took a great deal of pleasure (and time) in her brother Leopold's royal stables.  

I also have two questions on Maria Amalia's portraits and would very much appreciate any answers or leads: has anyone ever seen her 1770 portrait by Francois-Hubert Drouias (even in an artbook perhaps) and what year was her portrait (as Diana) painted by Carlo Angelo dal Verme?  
« Last Edit: October 25, 2009, 09:34:06 PM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Mari

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #80 on: October 28, 2009, 01:23:25 AM »
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I also have two questions on Maria Amalia's portraits and would very much appreciate any answers or leads: has anyone ever seen her 1770 portrait by Francois-Hubert Drouias (even in an artbook perhaps) and what year was her portrait (as Diana) painted by Carlo Angelo dal Verme?
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In 2000 the Painting of Maria Amalia by Drouias was in a private collection owned by John Loring who is Design Director for Tiffany & Company in New York. That may help a little....if you wanted to contact him I am sure he would know I could not find anything else.
http://www.nytimes.com/2000/04/09/style/prince-princess-you-re-on-candid-camera.html?pagewanted=1

http://www.itisgalilei.parma.it/itis/nostri%20progetti/parco%20ducale%20e%20tiglio/parcoducale/Nome/GIARDINO4/s-maria%20amalia.htm

This site translated from Italian states There are numerous portraits throughout history of  Maria Amalia,  a controversial and fascinating character, who lived above the line... with momentum and spontaneity so much and  gained the sympathies of her subjects who called her the nickname "La Mata" and while She had the antipathy of many historians, as well as her husband who says he was publicly abused by the "lady." Exuberant, sexy, rude, outlandish and always contrary to the  origins of her husband. She claimed never to feel politically inferior to the spouse , something quite unheard of at that time."
My Italian is atrocious so the above is the gist of the paragraph I hope....I have read ugly, mannish and too horse crazy recently in another area so I thought it interesting...exuberant and sexy.

Louis XV, referring to Maria Amalia wrote to his nephew: "Your wife is an extravagant woman, and I will not hide, no one in the family loves her." Chiunque sentendo tali parole avrebbe almeno tentato di cambiare atteggiamento e invece la Duchessa continuò a comportarsi secondo il suo istinto. Anyone hearing these words would have at least tried to change their attitude and instead the Duchess continued to behave according to her instincts. Non era bella: capelli rossicci e arruffati, naso adunco, occhi cerulei, spesso trasandata nel vestire, voce aspra e modi spicci; era tuttavia un "personaggio" che colpiva l'attenzione, se Lord Pembroke arrivò a scrivere: "io non conosco nulla di più curioso di Maria Amalia. Preferirei vedere lei piuttosto di tutti i Correggio messi insieme." She was not beautiful with tousled sandy hair, aquiline nose, blue eyes, often slovenly dressed, rough voice and a sharp manner; however,  she was a "personality" that caught the attention, and Lord Pembroke came to write "I do not know anything More curious to Maria Amalia. I'd rather see her all the  Correggio's put together. "

Among her other defects she was remembered as a "spendthrift" and squandered large sums of money. Maria Amalia però, per quanti difetti avesse, è ricordata da tutti come madre affettuosa e premurosa con i figli: Carolina (1770-1804), Ludovico (1773-1803), Maria Antonietta (1774-1841) e infine Carlotta (1777-1825). Maria Amalia, however,despite her many faults he is remembered by all as a loving mother and caring of her children:






at that site it stated that the Painting as Diana is at the Parma Gallery Nationale so that site could be contacted:
I could not find any date on the Web perhaps someone else but the Curator at the Nationale would know!

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=it&u=http://www.artipr.arti.beniculturali.it/htm/Galleria.htm&ei=tdznSsX-DoXP8Qbls4GQBw&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAsQ7gEwAA&prev=/search%3Fq%3DParma%2BGalleria%2BNationale%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26hs%3DQdM

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #81 on: October 28, 2009, 08:42:57 AM »
Many, many thanks Mari!

The reason I'm interested in the portrait by Drouias (said to be the most expensive French painter at that time) is that said painter was originally selected to do the portrait of Marie Antoinette in Vienna but Joseph Ducreux (less expensive) was substituted at the last minute, of course due to some court intrigue at Versailles. So apparently, whoever commissioned that portrait of Maria Amalia was willing to pay very good money for it while the future Dauphine (and Queen) of France was assigned a less expensive painter. I doubt if Maria Amalia commissioned it herself; I've read that she hated anything French. I also think it is one portrait of Amalia that is not very well known.   I do know some Italian so perhaps I will email the Galleria Nazionale di Parma on the 'Diana' portrait of hers. All I know is that Carlo Angelo dal Verme was a nobleman-painter who was from Milan, I think.

I've read ugly, mannish and horse crazy (as well as with dogs, too)... I've even read her being described as a Messalina or Agrippina and that she had live wolves brought to her to kill. I think such accusations are outrageous. While she was outlandish and very contrary to Maria Theresa, Spain and France, Maria Amalia was not evil. I think most historians/authors who paint(ed) her as 'evil incarnate' (or similar) simply forgot (or overlooked the fact) that Parma was a sovereign state and Ferdinand and Amalia could do whatever they wanted with the duchy.  And both wanted to be free of France and Spain. As for her not obeying her mother, well, it was already pointed out in this thread  that she didn't have to obey Maria Theresa or France's wishes or Spain's; she was, after all, under the authority of her husband. IMHO, I think Maria Theresa has done much worse things than her, such as the partition of Poland, the Seven Years War, her severe oppression of the Jews and Protestants, etc.  Of course, that doesn't excuse Maria Amalia's faults - she had many and was certainly no angel (Maria Theresa herself thought 'angels' such as Leopold's wife were only to be admired but not imitated) - but l think most historians have judged her quite harshly (the very reason I got interested in her in the first place).  If she was so awful, why did Parma's people love her or how could she have earned their sympathy? She must have done something right.

As for Louis XV saying those words against her, well, his words doesn't seem true.  Marie Antoinette's departure for France was deliberately moved to an earlier time in the hope that it would avoid the extent of the distress that happened during both Caroline's and Amalia's departures from Vienna. That doesn't sound like the departure of an unliked family member. One must also remember that Amalia seemed to be the only archduchess who was close to the older set of siblings as well as the younger set. I'm talking about Marianne, Elisabeth, Caroline and MA in particular.  And she also received visits from her brothers Leopold, Maximilian, and Ferdinand. IMHO, Louis XV was fed up with Amalia at that point. And did Ferdinand heed him despite his words?  France and Spain wanted to break them up but nothing happened to such plans.

Amalia's eyes were described as cerulean/azure blue. I think she was also described as having a beautiful figure so 'sexy' does fit. I wonder about that rough voice. I've read some accounts where Amalia was praised for her beautiful singing voice. Certainly, Il Parnasso Confuso (which she performed together with her sisters Elisabeth, Josepha, and Caroline during Joseph's wedding to Maria Josepha of Bavaria in 1765) was technically challenging; opera singer Julianne Baird in recent times recorded said opera and she said that they (the cast and other musicians) were surprised at the 'vocal acrobatics' of the opera----and pointed out that they were professional singers, unlike the archduchesses. Metastasio also waxed poetic rapture about Amalia's enchanting voice. Dorothy Gies McGuigan in the book The Habsburgs  described her as a coloratura (soprano). And Duke Ferdinand certainly thought his wife had a very pretty voice and expressed his deep regret about how a visitor (Lady Mary Coke) wasn't able to see her perform at the opera.
 
I've read that after Tuscany, Parma was the next best governed state in Italy, despite the fact that the reforms were stopped after the dismissal of Du Tillot. Seems like Ferdinand and Amalia did quite well, despite being on the conservative side and not being 'enlightened'.  An English noblewoman described Parma in 1790-91 as quite prosperous and said that Ferdinand was kind ruler-- i.e. no new taxes imposed and no petition was denied.  It is no wonder the people of Parma helped the ducal couple pay Napoleon's demands in 1796.      
« Last Edit: October 28, 2009, 09:12:22 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Mari

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #82 on: November 10, 2009, 02:57:37 AM »
comes of reading two sources at the same time.  Yes it was Bavaria they were eyeing. So, as I understand it Maria Amalia would not have been married to Karl of Zweibrucken because if he inherited... it would have been embarrassing to annex Bavaria! That makes the refusal more understandable but I wonder why such a harsh tone with Karl of Zweibrucken? see prior post!

exact quote below.....


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If the Elector of Bavaria died without a male heir it was planned to annex a part or all of the Electorate to Austria, and the Court wished to avoid disinheriting a member of the Queen's family.
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Offline CountessKate

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #83 on: November 10, 2009, 03:45:04 AM »
It's hard to know why he was so scoffed at - his sister was good enough for the royal house of Saxony and his mother was from yet another line with potential rights to Bavaria and descended from the Neuburg line from whom the Hapbsburgs themselves descended.  Perhaps he had to be comprehensively sneered at in order to ensure that he wasn't taken seriously, which certainly suggests there was some Habsburg pre-planning to take over Bavaria going on.  Not surprisingly, it took quite some time for the Zweibrucken line of Bavaria to become chummy with the Austrians again - over 40 years I think.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #84 on: November 10, 2009, 08:08:44 PM »
Well, from what I've read, Prince Kaunitz (who scoffed at Karl's proposal), was unbearably arrogant and rude.  That should (at least partly) explain the disdain he showed Karl.  Kaunitz and Joseph II, both very ambitious to have new terrorities, were the main architects of the plan to annex Bavaria and Kaunitz 'managed' Maria Theresa, who was said to have favored Karl for her daughter, at least at first.  I'm not sure how Kaunitz managed it but it was suggested that some compensation for the loss of Silesia was played at, because this was always an irresistible argument to Maria Theresa.  Later on, she claimed that she vetoed the match against all her (favorable) instincts and feelings.    

Karl hardly had anything much to offer Amalia at that point and most likely got support from the other Wittelsbachs for his marital plans.  His uncle was the duke of Zweibrucken and Karl was his heir but it seemed that Karl didn't plan to stay in Zweibrucken.  I hope I remember it right, but I've read from a German source that Karl planned for them to settle in Neuberg an der Donau in Bavaria (this town was  under the Palatinate branch of the Wittelsbachs).  I don't know if it was of any significance, but the palace there belonged to the Wittelsbach-Neuberg line and Amalia and Karl were both descended from this line. He eventually settled there with the wife (Maria Amalia of Saxony) forced on him in 1774.

Indeed, Zweibrucken was smaller and most likely more of backwater than Parma was.  And very bankrupt too.   Perhaps they counted on Amalia's not-so-bad dowry to live on and Karl had some income in France (from his regiment) and most likely an increased allowance from the Zweibrucken line until Karl became duke.  Karl was certainly ready with his proposals for their establishment when he met with Kaunitz.  But yes, they would've had a very modest establishment.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2009, 08:29:34 PM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #85 on: November 11, 2009, 09:11:19 PM »
I wonder if there are any internal photos of the palace of Colono in Parma. Would love to see if the grand appartments were still in tact.

Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #86 on: November 11, 2009, 09:40:08 PM »
I wonder if there are any internal photos of the palace of Colono in Parma. Would love to see if the grand appartments were still in tact.

No grand apartments but here are a few photos of a staircase, throne room and astronomical observatory.  From Parma's tourism website, click on the pics on the right side to enlarge......

http://turismo.parma.it/page.asp?IDCategoria=260&IDSezione=1094&ID=34604
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Offline prinzheinelgirl

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #87 on: November 13, 2009, 01:32:26 AM »
I believe Amalia disliked the ducal palace in the capital, the one in Parma (city). Sorry if that wasn't clear.  It was described as small, more like  a villa and certainly not a palace in her view; her apartments there were said to be cramped. I did read (from another source much earlier) that she was complained and complained about it, saying it wasn't good enough for her rank. Yes, there was another palace for them in Colorno and although it couldn't compare with Hofburg and Schonbrunn, it was/is nice enough.  I don't know, maybe she was just being a pain regarding their home in the capital. Because she liked staying at Sala Baganza a lot and the villa/hunting lodge there was rundown (later on, she had a new villa built).

As for Amalia's final home(s), this is what I remember:  the palace in Colorno is now home to a famous culinary school, and her estate/hunting villa in Sala Baganza (with plans of being restored for eco-tourism purposes) is part of nature park.  I'm not sure what happened to the ducal palace in Parma (capital city).  Most of the furnishings and artworks at the palace in Colorno were carted off to various palaces elsewhere in Italy when Parma was integrated into the Kingdom of Italy in the late 19th century.  That is why said palace has only a few of its original furnishings/artworks.  I saw at the Louvre's website a cabinet on diplay that was owned by Amalia and it was made in Sicily (and presumably used at her villa in Sala Baganza because of its markings/labels); it must have been a gift from her sister Caroline. I've read that Amalia did bring the family's personal possessions with her when she left Parma but not sure how many she could've brought. Perhaps only the ones that mattered to her dearly.    
« Last Edit: November 13, 2009, 02:03:31 AM by prinzheinelgirl »
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Offline Mari

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #88 on: November 13, 2009, 06:45:26 AM »
I came across a small reference to Maria Amalia trying to sell a Diamond Necklace in the later years of her life in my notes but no source. Does anyone know anything further about this?

Offline Eric_Lowe

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Re: Duke Ferdinand of Parma, his wife Maria Amalia,their family
« Reply #89 on: November 13, 2009, 04:01:31 PM »
Maybe during her last years. Where did she live when she went back to Austria ? Did Amalia took much back with her ? (I guess jewelry would be part of the cash objects she got back).