VIENNA.- The Kunsthistorisches Museum’s Collection of Historical Carriages, which also includes the Collection of Court Robes and Uniforms, is among the few museums in the world whose holdings comprise a large number of authentic, original mementos and objects intimately connected with the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Among them are carriages used by Sisi in Vienna and during her countless travels, the celebrated horsewoman’s private saddles and, last but not least, an important collection of magnificent original robes worn by the empress. In addition, there are numerous “portraits” of her horses and her hounds, and a number of unique personal accessoires such as silk stockings or her celebrated fan behind which she used to hide her face during her later years.
A Spectacular Exhibition Dedicated to Sisi
All these precious objects will be on show as part of a spectacular exhibition mounted by the Collection of Historical Carriages from May 30, 2008. A “Sisi-trail” will lead through the permanent collection with its sumptuous Habsburg carriages (from the imperial Coronation Coach to the automobile of the last emperor) and document - with the help of her carriages and unique original mementos - the life of the empress from her marriage to her tragic death.
Included are, among other things, the carriage in which the imperial bride first entered Vienna (it was originally built for Napoleon), the charming carriages of her children, the golden imperial coach in which she traveled to her coronation in Budapest, and the carriage she rode in just minutes before her assassination in Geneva. The rear is brought up by the imposing black funerary coach that transported her body to its final resting place.
Curios: Sisi’s Saddle and State Robe
Besides these sumptuous carriages, the exhibition includes portraits, paintings and unique personal objects once in Sisi’s possession: next to the wedding coach at the beginning of the exhibition, for example, visitors can admire the magnificent train made of white silk richly embroidered in gold that Sisi wore in 1854 with her wedding dress. Equally famous is the only extant bespoke saddle of the empress (who was celebrated as the greatest horsewoman of her time) which is displayed together with portraits of her favourite horses. A veritable icon for Sisi-fans is the magnificent black robe with its endless train designed for the empress by the Viennese designer, Fanny Scheiner, in 1878. This original dress brings to life the empress’ celebrated beauty and documents her impossibly thin waist for which she was greatly admired.
Inspired by her carriages, the exhibition offers a new and unusual glimpse of the personality of the celebrated imperial consort who lived over a century ago but was already greatly interested in things such as mobility, sport, and the cult of beauty that are still relevant today.