Friday, December 4, 2009

Archduke prefers art to title

December 4, 1907

Viennese society is once more "scandalized by the doings of a member of the Imperial House," according to a dispatch published in the Los Angeles Times.
Archduke Heinrich of Austria, Prince of Tuscany,"wants to renounce all his dignitaries, rank and imperial prospects to become a simple citizen." He also wants to "forsake the gay life of a an officer in a crack cavalry regiment" in order to become an artist and portrait painter.

The archduke is described as "only three places removed in the succession to the throne of Austria-Hungary," which the Royal Musings editor notes to be incorrect.

Archduke Heinrich Ferdinand Salvator Maria Joseph Leopold Karl Ludwig Pius Albert Rupert Katharina von Rici of Austria, Prince of Tuscany, is the 6th of 11 children of the former Grand Duke Ferdinando IV of Tuscany, who lost his throne when Tuscany was annexed by Italy in 1860. Heinrich's mother is Princess Alicia of Bourbon-Parma.

The 29-year old Archduke is a member of a branch of the Habsburg family that has seen more than its fair share of scandals. His elder brother, Leopold, "renounced his imperial title" and his position within the Habsburg dynasty to marry an actress, Wilhelmine Adamovic, whom he recently divorced. In October of this year, Leopold married another middle class woman, Maria Ritter.

The "doings" of Heinrich's sister, Luise, the former Crown Princess of Saxony and now the wife of an Italian musician, Toselli, are "too fresh in the public recollection to need anything more than bare mention."

Archduke Heinrich was "brought up to a military career," as are all male members of the house of Habsburg. He had "the usual succession of governesses and tutors at home," and then was sent to military academies for the rest of his education. He entered the arm as a Second Lieutenant in the Sixth Dragoons, an aristocratic corps. When he was as student at the Wiener Neustadt, he developed a "strong inclination for art." Along with his military training, Archduke Heinrich took classes in sketching, and soon "obtained great proficiency. He preferred portrait painting.

The archduke performed his military duties "with punctuality and ability," but with little enthusiasm. He was promoted to the rank of captain, and also became a knight of the Noble Order of the Golden Fleece, which is presented by the Emperor to all adult archdukes.

But Heinrich's interest in painting increased, and "he devoted all his spare time to art." He used his military leave to spend time in "the great centers of art -- Munich, Paris, Florence, Rome." Emperor Franz Joseph allowed his young kinsman to take a "special leave of absence for a year," which Heinrich spent in Munich to further his studies.

Archduke Heinrich has now made up his mind, and intends to open a studio in Munich. He also wants to "break more completely with his old life of fashion and elegance" and renounce his imperial titles. Emperor Franz Joseph has refused to grant this request, and Heinrich's family are "trying to persuade him" to give up this request, stating that he can be both an archduke and an artist.

His father is in extremely bad health, and this reason alone may "induce the Archduke to listen to the entreaties of his relatives and not give up all the ties of home and family life."

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