Wednesday, 11 July 2012
roof statues celebrate victories and the Labours of Hercules loom over leisurely fiaker rides.
an agate dish from the 4th century - but it's noticeable that many of the symbols of all the different titles and realms of the Habsburgs seem to be designed - like so much of our George IV's grandiosities - as a riposte to Napoleon. If he was going to declare himself an Emperor and the Holy Roman Empire dissolved, then the Habsburgs would become Emperors of Austria, and carry on adding titles (with the crowns and robes and assorted bling to go with them). By the time you get to the state apartments, that kind of excess applied to things like massive silver and gilt tableware, combined with the relatively spartan military discipline with which Franz Josef conducted his life makes the story of his wife Elizabeth (Sisi) entirely understandable.
No wonder that, like many other nineteenth-century women, she developed the kind of undefinable illness that required extensive "cures" away from court life (though it's quite another story why that, even combined with her assassination on her travels, should have led, some 60 years and more later, to such a Diana-like cult in the German-speaking world that there's a special exhibition just for her).