Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Gallery of Beauties

A tour in Munich, Bavaria is certainly not complete without a visit to the imposing Nymphenburg Palace. The palace was used to be the summer residence of the Kings of Bavaria, and it is now famous not only for its collection of artworks, but also for housing the Schönheitengalerie or the Gallery of Beauties.

The Gallery of Beauties is a collection of 36 portraits of the most beautiful women in Munich. The portraits were commissioned by King Ludwig I of Bavaria, a man known for his eccentricity and his love for beauty. German portrait painter Joseph Stieler painted the 36 portraits, featuring women from royalty (including King Ludwig's relations), nobility, and middle-classes, the latter group were shown wearing elaborate dresses and hair accessories despite their humble backgrounds. In 1861, Friedrich Durck painted two more portraits for the Gallery of Beauties (the portraits of Anna Greiner and Carlotta von Breidbach-Bürresheim).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Berengaria of Navarre: The English Queen Who Never Set Foot in England

Berengaria of Navarre, Queen of England.
Engraving from c.1890.
Berengaria of Navarre, consort to one of England's most beloved and best remembered kings, Richard I (the Lionheart), had a distinction in history as the only Queen of England never to set foot in England, well at least during her husband's lifetime. Just as in the case of early medieval English queens consort, little is known about Berengaria's life, and this what makes her more intriguing for me. She lived in a time of many historical events and yet she was overshadowed by more forceful personalities of that time (Richard the Lionheart and his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine). Berengaria is one of my favorite historical character, and I have always looked up to her as a beautiful, intelligent, compassionate and courageous woman, deeply devoted to her husband. But beauty and devotion were all seemed wasted. Richard, although undoubtedly the ideal warrior-king and the epitome of a chivalrous knight, was far from being the ideal husband (and the ideal king), and his treatment of Berengaria reveals a rather cold and callous side of his personality.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Portraits of The Princess Margaret

Princess Margaret has always struck me as a very lovely young woman. I just love her large, piercing blue eyes, her dazzling smile, and her beautiful coloring. She was very elegant and glamorous. No wonder she was a fashionable figure during the 1950s, and was always named as one of the best-dressed women at that time. This beautiful princess is indeed the embodiment of elegance and charm. It is just kind of sad that she spent the last days of her life in isolation and loneliness.
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