Friday, 2 September 2011

Sepia Saturday

Maria Luisa de Parma - Queen Consort of Charles IV of Spain

As my first contribution to Sepia Saturday, I've decided to follow some of themes suggested by Alan Burnett to coincided with his trip to the sunshine.  If for no other reason, this was done because it gave me the opportunity to use a rather strange image found amongst a bundle of old cards, photos etc. that I'd recently acquired.

Whilst, this, and the other image found on line, are not strictly Sepia Photographs, the first being an old Postcard of a Goya painting, they carry on the theme of  Spain and the Spanish Monarchy.  I'm not sure why anyone would want to make a Postcard of the particular subject, but I suppose there is no accounting for taste, or even the lack of it.  Also, as can be clearly seen, it does not continue the themes of  young and beautiful girls.

For the research on Maria Luisa I thank Wikipedia

Maria Luisa de Parma, was the Queen Consort of Charles IV of Spain whom she married on 4 September 1765.  As there was no Queen in Spain at that time, Maria Luisa became the first lady of the court from the beginning. Her husband was the son and heir of the widowed Charles III.

She was often described by contemporaries as an ugly, vicious, and coarse woman who thoroughly dominated the king. Her beauty was said to have been damaged by her many childbirths and, among other things, she lost her teeth, but she supposedly made every efforts to look pretty and dress elegantly. She had beautiful arms and she often wore short-sleeved dresses to expose them, as can be seen in this image lifted from the web.

Maria Luisa dominated her husband and was believed to have had many love affairs, but there is no evidence that Maria Luisa had any lovers. She was unpopular during her reign and has also long had a bad reputation in history, mainly because of her alleged love affairs and her support of pro-French policies that eventually weren't good for Spain.

Maria Luisa didn't get along with her daughter-in-law because the princess Maria Antonia, guided by her mother, tried to undermine her power.  Maria Antonia died from tuberculosis, an illness she had suffered for several years. According to the memoirs of the Duchess of Abrantes, it was rumoured that she was poisoned by Maria Luisa.

Due to pressure from Napoleon, her husband abdicated in 1808, and together with Maria Luisa spent the rest of his life in exile. When Napoleon's army invaded the country, several pamphlets blamed her for that. Maria Luisa spent some years in France and then in Rome, Italy. Both Maria Luisa and her husband died in Italy in early 1819.


  1. I see you’ve chosen to go down the ‘not sweet and angelic little girl’ route. Spanish uglies with a history attached make a nice change - well done! BTW neither of your links on SS work. I came here via your profile.

  2. "beautiful arms" ... well need one say more? I was going to say I bet she had a heart of gold, but "ugly, vicious and coarse" doesn't fit very well with that either. Welcome to Sepia Saturday, and I hope you haven't cursed Alan's trip - if he comes back with tales of meeting strange women with stunning arms, we know who to blame. ;-)

  3. That struck me, I suppose not everyone was so nasty and petty and looked for something nice to say about her. Confronted with a face like that I don't think I would have noticed the splendour of her arms

    If it is simply reduced to UVC it sounds like a plastic or an award of some kind don't you think

  4. Based on that description, I feel kind of sorry for her.

  5. She must have had some redeeming qualities, you'd think. I wonder what her contemporaries were like. The portraits look remarkably similar so I imagine they must have been good resemblances.

  6. Link works now.

    I wonder if Maria Luisa was sort of the Yoko Ono of her day, a convenient scapegoat. Although, I really can't say for sure about Yoko Ono either.

  7. Maybe she was just misunderstood, or several centuries ahead of her time.

  8. I was once told that every woman has something beautiful about her - you just have to look for it sometimes. An interesting woman even if she wasn't liked.

  9. Sounds like she needed a good PR! Perhaps Max Clifford would be interested.....

    Nice post, very interesting person by the sound of it.

  10. Welcome to Sepia Saturday. Thanks for the interesting read and fascinating photos. I don't think she looks that bad!

  11. Poor woman. Left to travel through history wearing that hat!