The mystery surrounding the red-haired version of the Lola Montez painting in the Gallery of Beauties at Nymphenburg intensifies. Here at Famous Biography, only the truth is good enough and so we’re trying to track down the origin of the red haired Lola. It appears on Wikimedia Commons and is being offered for sale by a US based art reproduction website.
Is the red haired version truly the one which Ludwig rejected or is it just a fake? We need readers help in tracking down the truth on this. Please get in touch if you can find any references to Lola’s hair colour in a book or a picture of her with red hair (other than those mentioned above).
The Lola Montez Painting at Nymphenburg is one of the 30 or so ‘Beauties’ that King Ludwig commissioned his artist Stieler to paint. If you watch the YouTube video, you will notice that the majority of the women are wearing rich looking dresses showing their bare shoulders, arms and some cleavage at least as well as pearls and other jewellery. It appears to have been Stieler’s style but Lola Montez is dowdy by comparison. Her plain black dress is buttoned to the neck and she only has a little brooch resembling a cross.
If I knew nothing about these women and was given a choice of any one purely based on the paintings, I wouldn’t choose Lola. She looks uninteresting compared to most of the others and not at all like her character. I think this was the King’s intention as he wanted to recreate her as a moral person with the past behind her. Only a few months earlier, she’d been told to leave Baden-Baden because of her licentious behaviour. It’s said she demonstrated her agility by putting her leg on a man’s shoulder. She probably wasn’t wearing any underwear at the time either.
According to Bruce Seymour, whose work I respect most in the matter of Lola’s life story, Stieler’s original portrait of Lola didn’t please Ludwig and he ordered him to do it again. My guess is that this original was more like all the other beauties and perhaps even more revealing. It seems this first painting was lost but does it still exist underneath the present one? Artists were well known to re-use their canvas since it was expensive. There are x-ray techniques available today which could determine if another painting is still there under the paint layers.
Finally, there is a portrait of Lola by Camille Rocqueplan dated about a year earlier in Paris and now that would be more likely to be a man’s first choice. I have been privileged to be allowed to photograph the original watercolour which is kept in the research room at the Carnavalet Museum in Paris.
When I found a Memoir of Catherine Hayes published by her agents, Messrs. Cramer & Beale of London, I thought now I can get the facts and eliminate all the silly stuff printed elsewhere. It turned out that all the other wrong short biographies of Miss Hayes had been largely based on this Cramer & Beale one. I won’t go into all it’s shortcomings here but let’s consider one major issue i.e. her education and early childhood in Limerick.
The traditional and, I have to say, accepted view to date is that she was a poor widow’s or deserted wife’s daughter with a natural talent for singing and that she was discovered by Bishop Knox as he was boating on the river Shannon. She was overheard as she sung in a bower in the Earl’s garden where she was helping her aunt who was a domestic servant there. They remarked on her fine trill.
No dount about her talent but the rest is humbug. Miss Hayes was never a servant, neither was her mother and Mrs. Daly was only an honorary aunt. The truth is that Catherine was brought up as an aristocrat’s daughter as was her sister Henrietta. They went to a young ladies academy where they learned Music, French, Italian, English and Elocution. Their mother was a rich man’s mistress whose husband had mysteriously disappeared and was never seen again.
The question now is: How do you, as a researcher, decide that all is not well with the generally accepted view of events? When you study life in Limerick in the 1820’s it should soon become apparent that there was great poverty, no schools for the poor, deserted wives could barely live never mind pay for an education. If they had the money, their children would be refused admission because only a gentleman’s daughters would qualify. By now, you should be seriously querying the published accounts of your subject’s early life and looking for alternative answers.
We have those alternative and correct answers provided for us by a close friend of the family. He details the education enjoyed by Catherine and Henrietta at a private academy and even describes their Italian and French teachers. There is later evidence in the form of letters and the employment of Henrietta that she knew French very well.
The moral here is that if the supposed facts don’t fit, you must look for alternatives which will. As a mistress, Mary Hayes didn’t work and was provided with everything she wanted. It’s doubtful if she lived in Patrick St. at all because her lover had many properties in the country which offered better privacy for his visits which had to be kept discreet.
Ladies in order of appearance: 1. Auguste Strobl 1827 2. Sofie Friedericke, Archduchess of Austria 1832 3. Irene, Countess of Arco-Steppberg, formerly Marchesa Pallavi 4. Crescentia, Princess of Oettingen and Wallerstein 1833 5. Marchesa Marianna Florenzi 1831 6. Rosalie Julie Freifrau von Bonar circa 1840 7. Josepha Conti 1846 8. Lady Emily Milbanke 1844 9. Lola Montez 1847 10. Lady Jane Elizabeth Digby Ellenborough, later El Mezrab 11. Antonia Ott, née Wallinger and more…
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Continue reading Joseph Karl Stieler Schönheitengalerie
I said in a recent discussion that it’s the content which matters but is that true today? We have the situation in which bookshops are trying to keep afloat and the books they display prominently are those which will bring them the most revenue. This means the ones from publishers who give them a regular extra discount for putting their books on display in the window and/or inside and promote them in the press etc. It doesn’t matter if they are chick-lit, non-fiction or fiction masquerading as truth. So long as it sells, it’s manna from heaven.
At a recent meeting in Dublin, I heard that 9 in 10 of ‘celeb’ books fail but the 10th hits the big time and pays for the others. What does that say for content? At Famous Biography, we’d like to think that content is king and that books like our ‘Virtue and Vice’ will prove the point. There is no doubt that in Catherine Hayes and Lola Montez, we have great characters to work with.
Miss Catherine Hayes – from a Portrait by A. Salome 1849
Courtesy of the Mander & Mitchenson Theatre Collection -London
Catherine or Kate Hayes is the principal subject of ‘Virtue and Vice’ to be published by Suir Vista later in 2015. This portrait of her is one of the very few that can be said to be based on original art work although the location of the original by A. Salome remains unknown. Several altered copies and mirror images of this picture are to be found in various collections. This is the oldest dated that the author can find.
There was a portrait painter called Anthony Salome who studied in Munich and practised in London in 1849. His painting of Tyutchev’s daughters is in the Tyutchev State Museum at Muranovo near Moscow.
It seems therefore that we can be reasonably sure that this is a good likeness of Catherine Hayes in 1849 when she was at the height of her fame. She sang at Buckingham Palace for Queen Victoria on 1st June 1849.
All rights reserved: TA Hayes 2014
Lola Montez travelled to Seville in Spain to learn dancing. She adapted flamenco to create her famous ‘Spider Dance” which she performed all over the world. Lola Montez Spider Dance was a form of striptease in which she found rubber spiders in her clothes and threw them on the stage. Then she started to strip off layers of her clothing until she was topless and sometimes nude for a private show.
The video of Lola Montez Spider Dance on this site now is not representative of Lola’s performance. It wouldn’t have attracted audiences even in the conservative 19th century. Lola’s dance was more like the ‘dance of the seven veils‘ which Salome did for Herod in return for the head of John the Baptist.
Lola’s 19c audiences loved it because they rarely saw women nude. Some men never saw their wives undressed so you can imagine she had quite an effect. The fact that she was a well educated and titled lady helped to give it a unique appeal after 1848.
This was part of a program at the Autry Museum of Western History in 1998. Athene Mihalakis performs her interpretation of Lola Montez’s notorious Spider Dance. The little things she is stomping on are spiders. Piano: Dean Mora. Video shot by David Gerard and edited by Walter Nelson. http://walternelson.com
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Continue reading The Spider Dance of Lola Montez
Catherine Deneuve is a stunning French actress/model/singer who has lived a fascinating life, having been romantically involved with Marcello Mastroianni, Roger Vadim, and François Truffaut. Ms. Deneuve got a career boost in 1965 by playing a virgin (yes, imagine that) in Roman Polanski’s brilliant psychological thriller titled “Repulsion”, a clip from which is featured in this video. The sound track is “Joy” by Isaac Hayes.
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Continue reading Catherine Deneuve
Although she died almost 150 years ago, the legend of Lola Montez lives on in Munich where she became King Ludwig’s mistress and he made her the Countess de Landsfeldt. There is a cabaret act in Munich featuring Lola which is described on this German website which includes a topless photo of the dancer.
After her affair with the King ended , Lola went to London where she was married twice on the same day. Presumably, she was still pretending to be a Catholic so that Ludwig would continue her generous allowance. They married first at the French Chapel and went to St. George’s in the afternoon. Lola was already legally married and was charged with bigamy soon afterwards.
I also found that there is a new book “Sex with Kings” by Eleanor Herman which includes Lola Montez as one of the lovers.You can order that for light reading. There is also a German edition “Seks met de Koning”.
Lola Montez didn’t worry about seducing other women’s husbands. This 1815 cartoon by Rowlandson reminded me of the incident in Australia when she was injured by an irate wife.