Friday, 24 February 2017

Olga’s Cicerone in Goethe’s Weimar

After the funeral on June 7th, 1840 of her father Friedrich Wilhelm III in Berlin, Alexandra, Nicholas and Olga traveled to Weimar. Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna had married the Hereditary Grand Duke Karl Friedrich of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach in 1804.

Only two of Nicholas’ six sisters were still living in 1840: Anna, Queen of Holland and Maria of Weimar. In her memoir, Olga wrote in 1835 that Anna ‘...with her arrogant face and cold eyes did not like Papa. I think she was in a bad mood … while Aunt Maria Weimar was respected by all …” In 1842, Anna’s daughter Sophie married Maria’s son Karl Alexander!

In her memoir of the year 1840, Olga wrote that Aunt Maria “… seemed to incarnate duty. Married for 35 years to a funny husband … [who] was brought up in the presence of Goethe and his brilliant surroundings … did not retain anything but anecdotal memories … Aunt heard all these stories a hundred times, does not even pay attention to them … while we are dying with laughter …”

Olga continued “… Uncle Karl was a cicerone to show me his capital. In the house of Goethe, where he led me first, I found a bust of Mama … among antique casts … In the library, I saw there 30,000 folios …”

Photographs c1905 and today (below) of Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s House, Frauerplan, Weimar 

 Photographs (below) of the Interiors of Goethe’s House c1905

In the autumn of 1795, Goethe rented his Gartenhaus in the Park an der Ilm in Weimar for the children of Grand Duke Karl August to play. In 1797, Friedrich Schiller wanted to rent the Gartenhaus but Goethe prevaricated with the demolition of the veranda and loss of the wood-stove and laundry!

In 1829, Maria Pavlovna’s daughter Auguste married Empress Alexandra’s brother Wilhelm I of Prussia. Auguste frequently returned to Weimar during her difficult marriage and reminisced of the idyllic scenes with Goethe tutoring her and her siblings. Did Goethe read to the children his essay ‘Uber das Blau’ derived from his experiments at Schloss Friedenstein in Gotha?

Photographs c1905 and today (below) of Goethe’s Gartenhaus in the Park an der Ilm

The Schloss in Weimar was rebuilt by Grand Duke Karl August and Goethe c1797. On October 14th and 15th, 1808 a large gathering met Alexander I and Grand Duke Konstantin in the Schloss, among them were the Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt and the Princes of Prussia - Oldenburg, Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.

Photographs and Panoramas c1900 and today of the Schloss in Weimar


  1. Extremely interesting! But Karl August was not a Grand Duke in 1797.

  2. Wonderful post Joanna.

    Yes, Alberto Penna Rodrigues, Karl August was only a Duke in 1797 and became a Grand Duke in 1815 until his death.

    For ease of use, do you not think that bearing the title of his death may be the best way to represent him during any annual information portrayed in a post? For accuracy, yes it may state Duke in 1797 but as a story line I think that Grand Duke is acceptable - do you agree Joanna?

  3. It is overwhelming for myself and readers with the various titles. I prefer on the blog to have it short and simple so I am using the last title of individuals for ease of identification for readers.

    My book has a list of individuals for readers to reference. It will simplify the repetitious use of titles.