Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all and have a blessed year ahead! May the good Lord bless us all.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Portraits of the Empress Elizabeth of Austria

On December 24, 1837, Princess Elizabeth Amalie Eugenie of Wittelsbach, who later became famous as the Empress Elizabeth of Austria, was born in Munich. "Sissi", as she was called, was one of history's most interesting women. Her beauty as well as her unconventional life, exerts a lasting fascination. She was and is always a beloved and iconic figure throughout Austria and Hungary.

Today marks the 174th anniversary of her birth, and as a tribute to this restless and unhappy Empress, I posted some of her portraits.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Daughters of Tsar Paul I

Alexandra Pavlovna, 
Archduchess of Austria (left)
Alexandra's birth was a disappointment to the Empress Catherine, who preferred grandsons to granddaughters. A less pretty child (in the Empress's judgment), she was compared unfavorably to her "good-looking" older brothers and with her younger sister Elena. Nevertheless, she was reportedly Paul's favorite daughter, and that when he received reports that her daughter was miserably unhappy at the Austrian court, he threatened war with Austria. 

Elena Pavlovna, 
Hereditary Princess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (right)
Elena, named after the legendary Helen of Troy, was the beauty of the imperial family. Judging from Empress Catherine's letters, she preferred Elena's physical appearance to her sister Alexandra. As Princess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Elena became acquainted and eventually friends with Queen Louise of Prussia. She was the one who 'introduced' the Prussian king and queen to her brother Tsar Alexander I, and their resulting friendship helped forged an alliance between Russia and Prussia against Napoleonic France.

Maria Pavlovna, 
Grand Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Maria was highly precocious as a child, and she was generally regarded as the most intellectual and literary of all Paul's daughters. She used her talents and learning to the improvement of Weimar, and she was able to transform her adoptive country as the cultural and literary center of Europe. 

Catherine Pavlovna, 
Queen of Wurttemberg
After the deaths of Alexandra and Elena at a relatively young age, Catherine, or "Katya" to the family, became the recognized beauty of the imperial family. A very vivacious and ambitious woman with a fiery temper, she was her brother Alexander's favorite sister. Of all Paul's daughters, Catherine was the only one who inherited her father's large dark eyes. She had a strong and daring personality and possessed great intellectual power, but also, according to Countess Lieven, a need to "always eclipse others". 

Anna Pavlovna, 
Queen of the Netherlands
Just like the youngest girls of other families, "Annette" was her father and mother's 'pet'. Unlike her older sisters whose upbringing and education were strictly supervised by Empress Catherine, Anna was brought up by her parents. It can be say that Anna and her younger brothers were Maria Feodorovna's favorite children. She was determined to have her own way in raising her three youngest children. After Paul's assassination, Maria Feodorovna turned to the then six-year-old Anna as source of comfort and consolation. She also became her mother's constant companion, and was horrified when Napoleon Bonaparte proposed to marry the teenage Anna. Nothing came out from this proposal, and Anna was eventually married to the future King of the Netherlands.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Historical Dolls (Empresses and Queens)

A while ago, I was surfing the internet for portraits of royal ladies, and I came across this wonderful collection of historical dolls created by Cheryl Crawford. I thought the dolls and their costumes looked beautiful. I just love how Ms. Crawford was able to transform well-known and evocative characters in history into such a beautiful works of art. Here are some photos of her lovely creations. By the way, I do not own any of these dolls nor the pictures.

Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt

Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France, Queen of England

Friday, December 2, 2011

Napoleon Bonaparte and Queen Louise of Prussia

The Treaty of Tilsit
Napoleon receives the Queen of Prussia at Tilsit, July 6, 1807.
The painting also shows King Frederick William III of Prussia and Tsar Alexander I of Russia.
(Painting by Jean Charles Tardieu)

Queen Louise accompanied her husband with the hope of helping him secure better terms for Prussia. Unfortunately, Napoleon proved to be adamant. In the course of this infamous and momentous meeting, the French emperor offered the beautiful queen a rose, which she took, and asked furtively, "With Magdeburg, Sire?" Napoleon sternly answered: "Madam, it is mine to give, yours to accept what I offer!" This rebuff proved to be the Queen's breaking point, for she was already by this time suffering from ill health and was so worn out with anxiety for her husband and the whole country. Her grief for her suffering people and her hapless country took its toll, and Queen Louise died before she could ever see Prussia's victory and the overthrow of Napoleon Bonaparte. Before she died, she was said to utter the words: "Were they to open my heart, they would find Magdeburg engraved upon it."

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