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Letting Their Hair Down - Auction „Imperial Memorabilia“ at the Dorotheum Vienna
Georg Raab, Portrait of the Empress
Georg Raab, Portrait of the Emperor
Emperors, at least in medieval times, were regarded as God's representatives on Earth and venerated almost as if they were gods in their own right. Trade with various devotional objects flourished and continues even today, as the popular auction of „Imperial Memorabilia“ on 28th April 2008 at the DorotheumVienna once again demonstrates.
The sometimes extremely personal character of this type of worship becomes evident in some items associated with Emperor Franz Joseph I. In the curiosities category some beard hair remind us of the Emperor's eccentric fashions in facial hair. Enclosed in a glazed frame and dated 7. 3. 1910 on the back, this devotional object is expected to be worth € 1.200 - 2.400 to some true aficionado of imperial memorabilia. Nine envelopes containing some of the Emperor's hair and inscribed with the date and place at which they were cut as well as one of "His Majesty's Nails" (valuation € 500 - 1.000) originate in the estate of Franz Joseph's valet Eugen Ketterl. More in the nature of an art object, the Emperor's personal hand mirror comes with a leather case that bears the remarkable inscription „Portrait de la Personne que j’aime“ – portrait of the one I love (€ 1.000 - 2.000).
One of the Emperor's writing sets, a so-called „campaign writing set“ is valued at between 4.000 and 8.000 Euro. A letter from his brother, Archduke Carl Ludwig, to his instructor contains several drawings by the 15-year old, of a dog, a landscape, and two soldiers (€ 500 - 800). Offering a – metaphorical – insight into Their Majesties' stomach is a handwritten cookbook by the long-time k. u. k. court chef Rudolf Munsch (€ 900 - 1.800).
What would the Emperor be without his Elisabeth? This question seems more than justified by a pair of portraits of the Emperor and the Empress, at € 40.000 - 60.000 the two most expensive objects presented at this auction. The excellent portraits by the hand of the court painter Georg Raab date to 1873, respectively 1874. The one of Elisabeth used to hang above the Emperor's bed at the Schönbrunn Palace while Franz Joseph's portrait once had its place in the Empress' apartments there. Two additional portraits by Franz Russ are valued at 8.000 to 14.000 Euro.
Rose and rosary: Representing a touching reminder of Elisabeth's tragic end, a glazed frame contains a rose from the deathbed of the Empress (€ 1.200 - 2.400). Sisi's rosary, made of gold and blue gemstones with a pendant cross and a Holy Virgin pendant also of gold, is expected to bring between 2.000 and 4.000 Euro.
In addition, the popular auction also features parts of various imperial table services, portraits and busts depicting members of the international nobility and major ruling families.
Imperial Memorabilia, 28. April 2008, at 5:00 P.M.