✧ Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her family Spam [41/50] ✧
Elisabeth is particularly proud of her thick hair, of which the combing and dressing takes up between two and three hours a day. Her hairdresser Franziska (Fanny) Feifalik plays a decisive role, since the former hairdresser of the Wiener Burgtheater is responsible for all the elaborate hairstyles. While hairdressing she has to put on white gloves and is forbidden to wear rings. After dressing, braiding and pinning up the hair for hours, the fallen out hairs have to be presented in a silver bowl, each lost hair bringing about a look of reproach from the Empress. Her niece remarks mockingly, that “the hairs upon Aunt Sisi’s head are numbered”. On a fortnightly basis, the hair is being washed with a specially made mixture of egg yolk and cognac, a procedure which takes up a whole day. In later years she probably tinges her hair with indigo and an extract made from nutshells. The hours spent with hairdressing are primarily used by Elisabeth to learn languages: Hungarian and later most notably ancient and modern Greek. For the latter she hired Constantin Christomanos, who reads to her, corrects her language exercises and philosophises with the Empress. Christomanos describes the hours of hairdressing in the Hofburg in the following way: “Hairdressing takes almost two hours, she said, and while my hair is busy, my mind stays idle. I am afraid that my mind escapes through the hair and onto the fingers of my hairdresser. Hence my headache afterwards. The Empress sat at a table which was moved to the middle of the room and covered with a white cloth. She was shrouded in a white, laced peignoir, her hair, unfastened and reaching to the floor, enfolded her entire body.
✧ Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her family Spam [27/50] ✧
✧ Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her family Spam [30/50] ✧
Gisela never has been close to her mother, being raise by the Archduchess Sophie her grandmother. Later Elisabeth failed in establishing a good relationship with her. She was very close to her brother until she married Prince Leopold of Bavaria in 1873. The couple had four children. She lived a quiet life in Munich, undertaken many charity work, supporting the poor, blind and deaf people. She died in 1932.
"To me Gisela is the ideal of a wife and mother." Marie Valerie her sister.
✧ Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her family Spam [38/50] ✧
Sisi loved Hungary, partly a protest against Sophie, who detested all Hungarians, but also because she felt close to the language and the people of that country. The year 1866 saw Austria plunge into a severe crisis, which threatened to break Austria from many sides. But Sisi’s commitment to an Austrian-Hungarian settlement on the basis of special rights and freedoms for Hungary released the tension between Vienna and Budapest. The Habsburg Empire was divided into two equally authoritative parts.A Dual Monarchy emerged, with Vienna and Budapest as equal capitals. In 1867 Franz Joseph was crowned King of Hungary – Sisi’s biggest political triumph. However despite her commitment to Hungary, at the bottom of her heart Sisi was not a political person.
✧ Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her family Spam [10/50] ✧
✧ Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her family Spam [33/50] ✧
When Sisi’s son, Rudolf, committed suicide in Mayerling with his loved one, Mary Vetsera, in 1889, Sisi never recovered from the blow. Increasingly growing lonely.
✧ Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her family Spam [29/50] ✧
On 5 March 1855, the soon-to-be eighteen-year-old Empress of Austria delivered a daughter who was christened the same day Sophie after Franz Joseph’s mother. Right after being baptised she was taken away from Elisabeth by her mother-in-law, on account of the Empress being to young to raise two children. While in Budapest, both Sophie and her sister Archduchess Gisela fell ill with diarrhoea and had a very high fever. Ten-month old Gisela recovered quickly. However, two-year-old Sophie’s body could not take it. At 21:15 in the evening, after eleven hours of struggling to survive, Sophie died in her mother’s arms. The death of her oldest child would haunt Empress Elisabeth for her entire life.
✧ Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her family Spam [23/50] ✧
At the beginning of their marriage, Sisi tried her hardest to live up to expectations , although she hated the ceremonial of the Wiener Hofburg and the strict regiment of her mother-in-law, Sophie. Although Sisi’s beauty and her naturalness were very popular with her people, Sophie did her best to transform the freedom-loving child into a disciplined empress. Sisi became melancholy. She found a little consolation with her very busy husband, who was her only foothold during her early time in Vienna.
✧ Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her family Spam [26/50] ✧
✧ Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her family Spam [22/50] ✧
Very few dresses of Elizabeth has been preserved. This dress isn’t shown to the public for reasons of conservation, however a copy was made for the Sisi Museum of Vienna. She wore this gown at her farewell to Bavaria, April 20, 1854. Dress and shawl were entrusted to the Institute of Arabic Language at the University of Vienna. It is in fact a « Tugra » an ancient seal of Sultan which translates: « Oh Lord, what a beautiful dream ». Surely it was bring back from one of the numerous journeys of Duke Max, Elisabeth’s father.