What is a Doll?

How long have we had this love affair with Dolls?

Pearls of Wisdom:

New World Dictionary describes a doll as - "a child's toy, puppet, marionette, etc. made to resemble a human being."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"The Blond Andalusian" Eugenia de Montijo

Eugenie by Franz Xavier Winterhalter

María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox-Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick, 16th Countess of Teba and 15th Marquise of Ardales; 5 May 1826 – 11 July 1920), known as Eugénie de Montijo.
A Spanish countess, she was born in Granada, Spain, in 1826.
She was the beautiful and fashionable wife of Napoleon III and last Empress consort of the French from 1853 to 1871.

Manuela de Montijo and her two daughters: "Paca," future Duchess of Alba, and "Eugenia," future empress consort of France.

She was the daughter of a Spanish officer Don Cipriano Palafox y Portocarrero(1785–1839), 9th Count of Montijo Grandee of Spain amongst other titles, and her mother was from Scotch Roman Catholic descent.
Eugénie de Montijo, as she became known in France, was educated in Paris, at the fashionable convent of the Sacré Cœur, where she received a Catholic education. When Prince Louis Napoleon became president of the Second Republic, she appeared with her mother at several balls given by the "prince-president" at the Elysee Palace; it was there that she met the future emperor, whom she wed on 30 January 1853.

Empress Eugenie by BRU

Empress Eugenie de Montijo

Napoleon III

Eugénie was a remarkable woman who stood out among not only previous queens of France but contemporary queens of other European countries.
Napoleon had, in fact, tried to make Eugenia his mistress rather than his wife. When he asked her one night: ''Madmoiselle, how can I reach your bedroom?'' She replied: ''Through the chapel, Monsieur!'' Napoleon took it seriously and, despite some of his relatives' opposition, he married her.

Empress Eugenie, by Winterhalter. Hillbert Museum Washington DC

Dorheim Koch; China shoulder head "Eugenie" ca. 1850's

The Empress became an expert in French History and through her acquisitions of art objects she was instrumental in the revival of both the Empire and the Louis XVI styles. She refurbished the royal residences including the Palais de Tuileries . It was at this palace that the young queen Victoria and Prince Albert made a state visit, and where Eugenie had art work residing at The Louvre moved temporarily to the palace for the Royal visitors to enjoy at their leisure. It is written that this was one of Victoria’s highlights of her young life, and between queen and empress was born a sisterhood that would last all their lives.

The Empress Eugenie collected objects and memorabilia associated with Marie Antoinette and housed them in the Petit Trianon in Versailles. Her fascination with the Queen extended to dressing like her as evidenced by this 1854 portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. The Empress stands in a garden of lilacs, wearing a deep yellow taffeta gown trimmed with black bows and blue ribbons, rope of pearls, fringes and tassels in the Rococo Revival style. Her hair had been powdered white and adorned with ribbons and a feather ornament. This painting has been compared to the 1787 painting of Queen Marie Antoinette in the Park at Versailles by Adolph-Ulrich Wertmuller.

The Empress Surrounded by her Ladies in Waiting...Winterhalter

The empress set standards for beauty and fashion in the French Court, having the best designers at her disposal. She also became noted for her extravagance. When the empress wore the new cage crinolines in 1855, European fashion followed suit, and when she abandoned vast skirts at the end of the 1860s, at the encouragement of her legendary couturier, Charles Frederick Worth, the silhouette of women's dress followed her lead again. Eugénie's aristocratic elegance, splendour of dress and legendary jewels are well documented in innumerable paintings, especially by her favourite portraitist, Franz Winterhalter.

Elegant 19th-century use of flowers for personal adornment: “Empress Eugenie,” oil on canvas by Edouard Dubufe, 1854. In the Musee National de Versailles et des Trianons, Versailles, France.

A beautiful woman who did full justice to her crown. She was tall, with a neck spoken of admiringly at the time as swan like.

The best of the Parian or Dresden dolls were made between 1850 and 1860. Most of the heads after 1860 were of coarser clay and not so fine in modeling. Of course there are exceptions, and indeed there is great variation even in heads of the same model. One of the most beautiful heads made before 1860 and a favorite among collectors, if we are to judge by the number who have it, is the Empress Eugenie, which may have been intended for a portrait of the young Empress of France. On these dolls the golden hair is arranged in a chignon or waterfall with a green or black net. On one side of the front of the head is an elaborate decoration of pinkish gold luster; on the other side there is some silver luster. Some collectors mistakenly call this hair net a "snood" but the "silken snood" is something quite different-a ribbon which the Scotch maiden bound in her hair as a token of her virginity.

The Prince Impérial. 1856-1879

The Empress Eugenie holding Louis Napoleon, the Prince Imperial on her Knees... Winterhalter

Eugenie and "Lou-Lou" as the Prince was affectionately called.

The Prince and his father, Napoleon III of France.

A Family Portrait

Napoleon Eugene Louis Jean Joseph Bonaparte, Prince Imperial, Fils de France, was the only child of Emperor Napoleon III of France and his Empress consort Eugenie de Montijo. His early death in Africa sent shock waves throughout Europe, as he was the last dynastic hope for the restoration of the Bonapartes to the throne of France.

Louis Napoleon graduated from the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich and because of the intervention of Queen Victoria and the Empress Eugenie, he received a commission into the Royal Artillery and upon the outbreak of the Anglo-Zulu War was allowed to go to Africa.
On June 1, 1879, the Prince formed part of a scouting party around the area of what is today Zimbabwe. Approximately 40 warriors surprised the party slaying the Prince and two other soldiers.

Empress Eugenie in mourning.

The Prince with his dog "Nero"

Of his heroic final moments, it is said the Prince's horse started to dash off before he could mount, he fell beneath his horse, which crushed one of his arms. However, he was able to jump up whereupon he was speared in the thigh. He managed to pull the spear out of his wound, but he was next struck in the left shoulder. He continued to face his attackers, using a spear to defend himself before sinking to the ground, having been stabbed 18 times. The Zulu greatly admired his bravery, saying, "He fought like a lion, and we did not dare to close 'til he sank down facing us."

The Empress and her son, Louis Napoleon, painting by Tissot.


" Empress Eugenie" Bisque Fashion doll by Bru of France ca. 1872

Politically influential she often acted as Regent during her husband’s absences., but she was also largely blamed for the fiasco of the French Intervention in Mexico and the eventual death of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico. .
After the battle of Sedan, in which her husband was captured, she was urged to flee from Paris. After his release, Napoleon and Eugenie were forced to live in exile in England from 1870 until her death in 1920.

After the deaths of her husband and son, her health started to deteriorate. Her physician recommended she visit Bournemouth which was, in Victorian times, famed as a health spa resort. During her visit in 1896, a groundskeeper lit hundreds of little tea candles in the municipal Bournemouth Gardens to light her way to the sea at night. This event is still commemorated in the same gardens every September in an elaborate public display, set to music, of both static and floating lighted candles.
The former empress died in July 1920, aged 94, during a visit to her relatives, the Dukes of Alba in Madrid, in her native Spain, and she is interred in the Imperial Crypt at St. Michael’s Abbey, Farnborough, with her husband and her son.

Defonds "Empress Eugenie at Biarritz" ca. 1856

The Crown of Empress Eugénie was the consort crown of Eugenie de Montijo, the empress consort of Emperor Napoleon III of France. Though neither she nor her husband underwent a coronation a consort crown was specially created for her.
After her husband was overthrown in 1870, following the Franco-Prussian War, Napoleon and Eugénie lived in exile in the United Kingdom. She was the last surviving French person to have worn a crown.
Though most of the French Crown Jewels were sold by the French Third Republic in 1885, the Crown of Empress Eugénie was kept and is on display in the Louvre museum in Paris.


  1. So far, very beautiful and informative, but I will have to return when I have more time to read it all. You could make a sweet little booklet of this one!

    Off the subject; I hope your staged performance was a wonderful success!

  2. Great post. A name I'd heard of but knew nothing about. The dolls really add to it. Many thanks.

  3. Thank you Christine...This is one of the loveliest Parian dolls as well as the wonderful bisque Bru's. A tribute to a beautiful woman nonetheless. It's almost unbelievable that her husband proved to be a philanderer. I didn't go into that part of the story, she really wasn't a happy empress, and after her son's death she just fell apart.
    The stage play , was a great experience... Hope I can do more in the future.

  4. Thank you Hermes...She is one of my favorite ladies in history. Beautiful and sad.