The Height Of European Aristocratic Elegance- François Cuvilliés (top photo with a selected print beside inset)

François Cuvilliés (1695-1768) was a Flemish-born, French-trained architect, interior decorator, and ornament designer who brought to Munich the new rococo style and produced there, particularly in the Amalienburg and the court theater, masterpieces of the Bavarian rococo.

François Cuvilliés was born a dwarf in Soignies, Hainaut, on Oct. 23, 1695. Discovered about 1706 by Prince Elector Maximilian Emmanuel of Bavaria, who was in exile in Flanders, Cuvilliés was educated with the court pages, although he was officially the court dwarf. He returned with Maximilian Emmanuel from exile to Munich in 1715 and was allowed to work with the court architect, Joseph Effner.

Maximilian Emmanuel then sent Cuvilliés to Paris in 1720 to study under François Blondel the Younger, where he remained until 1724. On his return to Munich, Cuvilliés was appointed court architect in 1725, thus beginning his long career in the service of the house of Wittelsbach, the rulers of Bavaria. For them he produced such works as Schloss Brühl and the so-called Reiche Zimmer (the “rich rooms”) and the Green Gallery of the Residenz in Munich between 1730 and 1737.

Cuvilliés’s masterpiece, and one of the finest creations of the Bavarian rococo, is the famous Amalienburg, a hunting lodge built for the electress Maria Amalia on the grounds of the summer palace at Nymphenburg outside of Munich. This small palace, single-storied and with only six main rooms, is, in its exterior, very plain, but its interior, particularly the central round mirrored hall, decorated in pale blue and silver, and the flanking bedroom and sitting room, decorated in deep yellow and silver, are the masterpieces of Cuvilliés and Johann Baptist Zimmermann, who produced the stucco decoration after Cuvilliés’s designs. The simplicity of the layout of the main rooms forms a suitable foil for the rich and fantastic ornament of the walls, the mirrors, and the doors, and even some of the furniture, especially the console tables of the central hall, all designed by Cuvilliés.

Cuvilliés repeated his triumph in the small court theater he built in the Residenz at Munich (1751-1753). Although the theater was destroyed during World War II, all the furnishings, the paneling, and carved decoration were saved; they were fully restored and are now installed inside the Residenz. The court theater is known as the Cuvilliés Theater, in honor of the architect. Cuvilliés other works in Munich are the Hohnstein Palace, now the Archbishop’s Palace (1733-1737), the Preysing Palace (1740), and the facade of the Theatine church (1765-1768). Outside of Munich, the churches of Berg am Laim, Diessen, Schäftlarn, and Benediktbeuren all have altars or rooms decorated by Cuvilliés.

During the last 30 years of his life Cuvilliés also produced many designs for decorations and ornament, which, engraved and sold as pattern books, served to spread his personal mixture of French and German rococo throughout central Europe. His son, François Cuvilliés the Younger (1731-1777), assisted his father, engraved his designs, and, after the elder Cuvilliés’s death on April 14, 1768, completed many of his works.

Selected Works:

1. Nymphenburg Palace 

2. Chapel of Augustusburg Palace

3. The King’s Bedroom, Amalienburg Palace

4. The Green Gallery, Munich Residenz

5. Cuvilliés Theatre 

6. Stone Hall, Nymphenburg Palace

7-8 Selected Prints

Upon arrival [to Brest-Litovsk], the [Jewish] Bolshevik Karl Radek—born Karl Sobelsohn in Habsburg Lemberg (Lwów)—had hurled antiwar propaganda out the train window at rank-and-file German soldiers, urging them to rebel against their commanders. Seated across the table from the German state secretary for foreign affairs, Baron Richard von Kühlmann, and the chief of staff of German armies in the East, Major General Max Hoffman, Radek leaned forward and blew smoke. At the opening dinner in the officers’ mess, one member of the Russian delegation, a Left SR, kindly reenacted her assassination of a tsarist governor for the meeting’s host, Field Marshal Prince Leopold of Bavaria. The head of the Bolshevik delegation, Adolf Joffe —whom the Austrian foreign minister, Count Ottokar Czernin, pointedly noted was a Jew—observed that “I very much hope that we will be able to raise the revolution also in your country.” Thus did the leftist plebes of the Russian Pale of Settlement and Caucasus square off against the titled German aristocrats and warlords of the world’s most formidable military caste.

Stephen Kotkin, Stalin: Paradoxes of Power


Representatives at the coronation of Nicholas II, Emperor of Russia

1) Representatives of Bavaria: They are arranged in a group with four seated and three standing behind them. Prince Louis of Bavaria (1845-1921), later King Ludwig III, is sitting at the centre of the group holding a hat with a feather plume on his lap. They are all wearing ceremonial military uniform and are holding swords.

2) Representatives of the Grand Duchy of Baden: They are arranged in a group with four seated and two standing behind them to the left. They are wearing ceremonial military uniform and are holding swords.

3) Representatives of Denmark: They are arranged in a group with three seated and three standing behind them. Crown Prince Frederik, later King Frederik VIII (1843-1912) is sitting at the centre of the group facing partly to the right. They are all wearing ceremonial military uniform.

4) Representatives of the Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine: There are ten men arranged in a group with four seated and six standing in a row behind them. Ernst Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine (1868-1937) is sitting second from the left. All are wearing ceremonial military uniform or formal dress.

5) Representatives of France: They are standing in a group on a stone staircase with an open door behind them. All are wearing ceremonial military uniform.

6) Representatives of Romania: They are arranged in a group with Prince Ferdinand of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1865-1927), later King Ferdinand I of Romania, sitting at the centre. All are wearing ceremonial military uniform.

7) Representatives of the United States of America: They are arranged in a group with three women at the centre wearing formal dresses. General McCook, the military envoy, is standing to the far left and there are two men to the far right. All are wearing ceremonial military uniform.

8) Representatives of the United States of America: Clifton Rodes Breckinridge (1846-1932), the Minister to Russia, is seated in the middle of the group. His wife is sitting beside him to the left and Mrs Peirce is sitting to the right. Five men are standing in a row behind them with Admiral Selfridge (1836-1924), the naval envoy, standing second from the right wearing naval uniform.

9) Representatives of the Netherlands: Seated at the centre of the group is a woman wearing a formal dress with a young girl standing beside her to the left. There is a man seated to the left and two men seated to the right. Six men are standing in a row behind. All of the men are wearing ceremonial military dress.

10) Representatives of Japan: There are nine men arranged in a group with five seated and four standing behind. Yamagata Aritomo (1838-1922), the Ambassador Extrodinary, is sitting at the centre of the group. All are wearing ceremonial military uniform or formal dress.

11) Representatives of Turkey: There are six men arranged in a group with four seated and two standing. Mr Zia-Pascha, the Ambassador Extrodinary, is sitting second from the right. They are all wearing military uniform or formal dress and several are wearing a fez.

12) Representatives of China: There are twenty-two men standing in a group with Li-Hung-Tchang (1823-1901), the Ambassador Extraordinary, seated at the front of the group to the right. They are wearing a mix of traditional Chinese costume and western military uniforms.

13) Representatives of Siam: Prince Shira of Siam is sitting to the left with a small table in front of him. There are two attendants beside him to the right, one seated and one standing. They are all wearing ceremonial military uniform. 

14) Representatives of Württemberg: There are five men arranged in a group with three seated and two standing behind. Albrecht, Duke of Württemberg (1865-1939) is sitting at the centre of the group. They are all wearing ceremonial military uniform. 

15) Representatives of Mexico: Don Manuel Iturbe, the Envoy Extraordinary, is sitting to the left wearing a heavily embroidered jacket and a sash. Two men are standing to the right, also wearing formal dress.

16) Representatives of the Emirate of Bukhara: There are six men arranged in a group with five sitting in a row and one standing behind. Emir Seid-Abdoul-Akhad-Khan (1859-1911) is sitting at the centre of the group. They are all wearing traditional costume or military uniform.

17) Representatives of the nobility: There is a large group of men gathered in front of a stone building which has three arches supported by columns, a balcony and windows in the gothic style. All are wearing military uniform. 

18) The suite of Nicholas II: There are sixty-five men arranged in a long group with the front row seated. All are wearing ceremonial military uniform and many are carrying swords.

19) Correspondents and artists

July 31, 1917 - Third Battle of Ypres Begins

Pictured - British stretcher-bearers struggle to bring in a wounded man on July 31, 1917. The first phase of the Third Battle of Ypres, or the Passchendaele offensive, is called the Battle of Pilckem Ridge. It lasted from July 31 to August 22. A massive downpour of rain turned the battlefield into a quagmire and made advancing very difficult for the attacking British and French troops.

At 3:50 AM on July 31, 1917, Allied troops at Ypres went over the top, beginning the Passchendaele offensive. Their objectives were set 6,000 yards from the start line. From there their commander, Sir Douglas Haig, planned to slowly force back the Germans and clear the North Sea coast all the way to Zeebruge. Haig was confident he could win, Prime Minister David Lloyd George was not. But with the Russians in turmoil and France on the backfoot, Britain had to fight.

A final 3,000 gun barrage pounded the German front line, then lifted and moved off to rearward targets. Fifteen Allied divisions, nine British and six French, crept out of their trenches and attacked along a fifteen-mile front from the town of Bixchoote in the north to Messines ridge in the south. 

The attackers had mixed success. They advanced further that day than any previous single one in the Ypres salient. Yet the Germans’ thick defensive lines stemmed the assault. The terrain was also difficult. Flanders has a high water table, and three years of artillery fire had made No-Man’s Land a churned up patch of mud. The Allies 136 tanks did well on July 31: only two bogged down. But over the next month constant rain would force many of them to be ditched.

Yet on July 31 the Allies made decent progress, especially on the left, where the veteran French First army showed great skill at offensive tactics. The first-day objectives of Pilckem, Bixschoote, and St Julien ridge were all reached. Yet on the right flank of the battle things bogged down, and by mid-morning the usual problems of communication were starting to show. Telephone cables laid across No Man’s Land were cut, the infantry could not coordinate with the artillery or the tanks, and at two the Germans counter-attacked. A massive artillery bombardment fell on the British XVIII and XIX Corps at Gheluvelt that caused many to break and run.

Both Haig and his German opponent, Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, reported success on July 31. At the Somme a year earlier 20,000 men had died on the first day; today Allied casualties, both British and French, numbered 35,000 killed, wounded, or missing. The Germans had lost the same. But Rupprecht had not committed any of his reserves, and most of his deep defenses had not yet come into play, so he had the better claim when he recorded in his diary that night that he was “very satisfied with the results.”

Heinrich von Wittelsbach, Prince of Bavaria, agreed to his former tutor’s new baby being named after him and acted as his Godfather. The prince was killed by a sniper’s bullet in November 1916.


Royal Birthdays for today, August 25th:

Ivan the Terrible, Tsar of Russia, 1530

Louis I, King of Spain, 1707

Joseph Ludwig Leo, Prince of Bavaria, 1728

Franz Xavier, Prince of Saxony, 1730

Ludwig I, King of Bavaria, 1786

Maria Anastasia, Princess of Bourbon Parma, 1881

Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, 1845

The “White Lady” is a ghostly apparition of a woman dressed all in white, who is said to appear whenever a descendant of the House of Habsburg is about to die.

According to folklore, she was seen at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna the night before Marie Antoinette was executed. She was also reported to have been seen by some near Mayerling, where crown Prince Rudolf committed suicide, and by his mother, Empress Elisabeth, shortly before she was assassinated.

Die Prinzregententorte is a cake from Bayern (Bavaria), consisting of at least 6, usually 7, thin layers of sponge cake interlaid with chocolate buttercream and a topping of apricot jam. The exterior is covered in a dark chocolate glaze. It’s very popular in Bavaria, available in shops and cafes year-round. The cake is named after Prince Luitpold, who was prince regent of Bavaria beginning in 1886. Its exact origin remains in dispute; among those claimed as its creators are the prince regent’s cook, Johann Rottenhoeffer, the baker Anton Seidl, and the baking firm of Heinrich Georg Erbshäuser.


Swedish royal christening: Prince Carl Philip (31 August 1979)

Carl Philip Edmund Bertil, prince of Sweden was born on 13 May 1979 as the second child of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. His christening took place at the Royal Chapel on 31 August 1979. His godparents were Prince Bertil, Duke of Halland (paternal great-uncle), Princess Birgitta of Sweden (paternal aunt), Prince Leopold of Bavaria and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark (his father’s first cousin). His parents and his older sister, Crown Princess Victoria (2 years old) attended his christening.


Members of several royal families across Europe and the world in attendance at the Te Deum church service marking the King Carl XVI Gustaf’s 70th birthday today.

  • King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain
  • Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
  • Crown Prince Alois and Crown Princess Sophie of Liechtenstein
  • Prince Albert II of Monaco
  • Tsar Simeon II and Margarita of Bulgaria
  • Princess Takamado of Japan
  • Crown Prince Alexander and Princess Katherine of Serbia
  • Prince Leopold and Princess Ursula of Bavaria
  • Prince Manuel and Princess Anne of Bavaria
  • Prince Hubertus and Princess Kelly of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Originally owned by Queen Therese of Bavaria, Princess of Saxe-Hildburghausen (b.1792-1854) who bequested the jewels to her second son, King Otto of Greece, Prince of Bavaria (b.1832-1862). As he and his wife, Queen Amalia of Greece, Princess of Oldenburg b.(1818-1875), were childless these jewels were handed down to the king’s nephew, Prince Ludwig Ferdinand of Bavaria (b.1859-1949), thence by descent. The parure is known within the family as the ‘Queen Amalia Parure’.