Saturday, 1 April 2017

Franz Josef in 1843 Visits Munich & Possenhofen

A legend has grown around the 1853 engagement in Bad Ischl of Emperor Franz Josef of Austria and Empress Elisabeth (Sisi). Their meeting ten years before in Possenhofen, revealed in Franz Josef diaries, is little known nor is the name he called Elisabeth.

On Saturday, September 2nd, 1843 Franz Josef wrote “ … From Wasserburg, we traveled to Munich, the lovely dear Munich, where we saw the splendid Festbau, the Basilica, the Ludwigskirche, … We dined at the Palais Leuchtenberg at half past five o'clock. … I got to know the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess of Sweden. At seven o'clock we drove away from Munich and arrived at Possenhofen at quarter past ten. We found Duke Max and all his children, except for Louis, who is in Switzerland.

Aerial View (below) of Possenhofen on the Starnberger See, the summer home of Elisabeth, south of Munich

On Sunday, September 3rd, he wrote “… We had breakfast with Aunt Louise, Helene, Elise, and the very kind but almost distorted Kakl. At ten o'clock we went into the chapel to hear the mass where I was sick, so that I had to be carried from the chapel to an open window … At 12 o'clock I fished with Grf. Bombelles and Duke Max ... In the afternoon, we all, even the little Kakl, went to a castle on the opposite bank of the lake …” and on Monday, September 4th, “ … When we returned to Possenhofen, we went into the forest behind the castle, where we all had breakfast. We stayed there until half past twelve…  At two o'clock we dined, all the inhabitants of the castle, in the dining-room on the ground floor …”

Photograph c1854 (below) of Possenhofen

On Wednesday, September 6th, Franz Josef wrote “… At six o'clock I woke, and after breakfast, I went with Grf. Bombelles to Munich in two and a half hours, where we were staying at the Palais Max. From there we went to the painter Kaulbach, where we saw the painting of the destruction of Jerusalem and many other paintings. Then we drove over the bridge of the Isar … We dined at Palais Max, and when Mama arrived at the Palais Leuchtenberg from Possenhofen at half-past four , we went there, and from there we traveled with the Mama at half past five in the afternoon to Wasserburg, where we arrived at nine o'clock…”

Photographs c1854 (below) of the Salon and Nursery in Possenhofen

Wilhelm von Kaulbach was the great-uncle of Friedrich August von Kaulbach who painted the children of Nicholas II and Alexandra.

The Palais Leuchtenberg in Munich was built in 1821 by the architect Leo von Klenze for  Eugène de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg whose son Maximilian married Emperor Nicholas I’s daughter, Marie. Nicholas also commissioned Leo von Klenze to build the New Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

Painting and Photograph (below) of the Palais Leuchtenberg


  1. Always so interesting.

    Now here's a nice "rabbit hole" to consider: directly to the left of the window, top row, in the photograph of the salon is an image of a lady which I would bet money is Princess Helena, daughter of Queen Victoria, later Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. (After a portrait by Winterhalter, dated 1861.) If I'm right - and I admit the "evidence" is obscure, but I'm usually pretty good about these things - what would the unexpected connection be? (I have to say that the sculptural group in the corner looks very familiar as well....)

  2. The interior photos were taken c1854 or earlier. Helena was only born in 1846.

    The 'sculptured group in the corner' - the one with the horse?

  3. Oh, I know it doesn't seem at all likely, definitely not if the photograph is correctly dated. (Though Winterhalter did paint the 15 year old princess in 1861.)

    Yes, the figure with the horse and what looks to be a dog. I'm pretty sure I've seen that before... somewhere.... ; )