Archive for November 9th, 2014

Empress Elisabeth of Austria in Courtly Gala Dress with Diamond Stars, by Franz Xavier Winterhalter, oil on canvas, 1865, Schloss Hofburg, Vienna. Image via Wikimedia Commons

I picked up Daisy Goodwin’s first novel, My Last Duchess (2011), primarily because it took its title from Robert Browning’s poem of the same name, which I had studied at school. I did in part judge her second novel by its cover, coveting the outfit worn by the model in Jeff Cottenden’s cover photograph, but my main reason for choosing it was the fact that one of its characters is the real life Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary, Elisabeth, called Sisi (24 December 1837 – 10 September 1898), wife of Emperor Franz Josef I. Before reading this book, I knew Sisi only through her stunning portrait, by Franz Winterhalter (look left!). I have always loved this painting, and it is the reason why, knowing nothing else about her, I borrowed this book from the library. (more…)

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