the Empress’s Hand

March 18, 2012

I didn’t actually plan to make a post today as I’m so caught up with writing for my endless second novel, school and the other conventional ordeals which don’t seem to diminish any time soon but when I finally took a tiny beak and began my researching adventure (because one doesn’t simply relax without concomitantly doing something useful) I just couldn’t refrain sharing the peculiar thing I found  regarding Empress Elisabeth of Austria (you guessed right, the beauteous European monarch engraved in our collective  memory as the long-haired Sisi played by Romy Schneider).

That fantastic woman, a conglomerate of charming eccentricities half the cultivated Belle Epoque society gossiped about, publicly or not and disputably flattering, offered her favorite offspring, Archduchess Marie Valerie , amongst other symbolic gifts less worthy of our attention, a bronze cast depicting her own personal left hand.

Why, you may rightly ask . But why not, after all?

Queen Victoria herself did a similar thing to immortalize the arm of her beloved little son, Edward VII, once,  thus it’s not quite surprising giving the era when these intriguing female characters commissioned such unusual objects.

I’m not yet certain of what these  body parts replicas meant in the  subtle code of those days , whether they were veritable mementos or merely fashionable alternatives of being sculpted,  still it was clearly recorded the fact that Marie Valerie, perhaps oblivious to the importance of her mother’s present, gave the hand in question to Princess Louise d’Orléans, her ugly-duckling cousin.

It is my subjective assumption the daughter , literally haunted by Sisi, whom she reassembled in numerous ways, from looks and linguistic talents to misfortune galore, attempted to distance herself from her mother’s memory and estrange all the works wearing the great Empress’s print  despite being the only child she was allowed to rise and spoil. It was a bit ungrateful of Marie Valerie, but let us be indulgent with a girl curst by destiny to repeat the amorous tragedies of her notorious parent whose bizarre personality eclipsed hers totally, exemplifying Brancusi’s quote: “at the shadow of great  oaks nothing superior can grow”.  You see, she was practically tyrannized.

Coming back to the bronze hand, yes, she gave it away only to appear at auction a few years ago, sold to a private owner, which seems to be the end of the story, momentarily. ..

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