PROPERTY OF THE DESCENDANTS OF HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE FERDINAND OF BAVARIA, INFANTE OF SPAIN (1884-1958) (LOTS 1-77)
The Royal House of Wittelsbach, known also as the House of Bavaria, is a German dynasty whose origins date back to the 9th century. It is regarded as one of the most important families within the Holy Roman Empire, second only to the House of Habsburg, and whose power was demonstrated by supplying the Holy Roman Empire with two Emperors: Louis IV (1282- 1387) and Charles II (1697-1745).
The Wittelsbachs continued to hold prestigious titles, even when they were not ruling the whole Empire, serving as Kings of Bohemia, Hungary, Denmark and Norway, and as Dukes, Princes of the Holy Empire and Electors of the Palatinate. Such roles reinforced their high status and ensured that successive generations were firmly established amongst the ruling elite of the European royalty.
Events throughout the 19th century shaped the dynasty both politically and personally. Firstly, the political chaos of the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) provided Prince-Elector Maximilian IV (1756-1825) with the opportunity to declare the Electorate of Bavaria a Kingdom, which he ruled as Maximilian I from 1806, thus establishing Bavarian independence in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire.
The second notable event was the first union between the House of Wittelsbach (Bavarian branch) and the Spanish Royal House of Bourbon in 1856 through the marriage of Prince Adalbert Wilhelm of Bavaria (1828-1875) to Infanta Doña Amelia (1834-1905), daughter of Princess Luisa Carlotta of the two Sicilies (1804-1844) and Infante Don Francisco de Paula of Spain (1794-1865). Prince Adalbert was the first cousin of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria (1848-1916) and his beautiful wife Elisabeth (Sissi) (1837-1898) who are modelled in biscuit porcelain by sculptor Hermann Klotz (lot 20).
Upon her marriage Infanta Doña Amelia moved to the Bavarian capital Munich where she enjoyed summers spent at the spectacular Royal residence, Nymphenburg Palace. Despite residing in Munich for the rest of her life, she retained strong ties to her native Spain, visiting often. Her first son Prince Ludwig Ferdinand (1859-1949) was born in the Royal Palace, Madrid. Marriages between the two Houses became somewhat of a tradition, with three consecutive generations of unions in the second half of the 19th century. Princess Amelia was instrumental in the arrangement of the marriage between her son, Prince Ludwig Ferdinand (1859-1949) and his first cousin the Infanta Doña Paz (1862-1946), daughter of Queen Isabel II of Spain (1830-1904) in 1883.
Infanta Doña Paz was the sister of Alfonso XII, King of Spain (1857-1885) whose accession ended the First Spanish Republic in 1874 following a military coup. He is depicted in several of the lots presented here, in paintings and a fine equestrian bronze group (lot 60), modelled in an almost identical pose to Marco Benlliure’s 1902 bronze statue which centres the Alfonso XII monument erected in Buen Retiro Park, Madrid.
Although Prince Ludwig Ferdinand and Infanta Doña Paz married in Madrid and bore their first child, Prince Ferdinand of Bavaria (1884-1958) there, they subsequently moved to Bavaria, residing chiefly at Nymphenburg Palace. Prince Ferdinand was therefore raised and educated in Germany, attending the Military Academy of Bavaria and also the University of Munich.
After his engagement to his first cousin Infanta Doña Maria Teresa (1882-1912), daughter of Alfonso XII and his second wife Marie Cristina (1858-1929), was announced Prince Ferdinand declared his loyalty to Spain and was therefore granted the title Infante of Spain on 20 October 1905. The couple married in the chapel of the Royal Palace, Madrid on the 12th January 1906. Infanta Maria Tersesa’s exquisite hand-made lace veil was put on public display, as per tradition, in the Royal Palace.
After the wedding the newlyweds continued to live at the Royal Palace whilst their chosen residence at Cuesta de la Vega was restored. Sadly this no longer stands, having been destroyed during the 1960s, so photographs are all that can convey the grandeur of the interiors, which were filled with beautiful pieces of furniture, objets d’art and paintings, many of which were inherited from their grandparents King Francisco of Spain (1822-1902) and Queen Isabel II. The charming group offered here by the descendants of
Infante Ferdinand evokes the history and grandeur of this European dynasty and the palaces in which they lived, both in Germany and Spain.