original photograph, with Augusta Victoria name,
and dated 1888
photograph of Augusta Victoria, dated 1888
(this photograph courtesy of www.gogmsite.net/the-belle-epoque-1890-1914/subalbums-empress-auguste-v/
woven silk of Augusta Victoria, mounted in
typical Stevens card frame, but no weavers name
Image of Augusta Victoria, previously recorded as Unknown Lady
the image of this silk portrait kindly
donated by John Hartwig, USA
original photograph of Augusta Victoria, with
enormous similarity to woven silk
photograph of Augusta Victoria

Augusta Victoria

(body facing forward, head facing half left)

Reference Number:- Sprake Number:- Godden Number:-
so 70 STG114 117
Woven on silk:-

Printed at bottom of card-mount:-

cm deep by cm wide

cm deep by cm wide

by Austin Sprake:
Sprake originally identified this silk as being that of Princess Hermine of Schonaich-Carolath, the second wife of Wilhelm II.

by Geoffrey Godden:
Godden also originally identified this silk as being that of Princess Hermine.

Other comments:
Godden originally recorded two un-mounted silk portraits as being those of Princess Hermine. Subsequent research however established this to be incorrect, and for many years these two portraits were known simply as " Un-known Ladies ". Further research by members of the Stevengraph Collectors Association has now established that both these portraits are of Augusta Victoria, first wife of Wilhelm II, the last Kaiser of Germany.

Augusta Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein was born on October 22, 1858 in Dolzig Palace in Sommerfeld, Prussia; the eldest surviving child of seven. Her father was Frederick VIII, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg; her mother, Princess Caroline Matilda of Wales, sister of King George III of Great Britain.

She first met Prince Wilhelm of Prussia in 1868 when she was ten years old, and he only a few months younger than her. Wilhelm was the eldest child of the Crown Prince and Princess of Prussia (the future Kaiser Friedrich III and his wife Victoria, Princess Royal). Augusta Victoria and Wilhelm were re-acquainted in the summer of 1878 in Potsdam, Prussia, and they became engagement officially on June 2, 1880, and married on February 27, 1881 in Berlin.

Augusta and Wilhelm had a very happy marriage. She had more artistic interests than he did, but they shared very conservative political views and a deep religious faith. The couple had seven children, six sons and one daughter.

The year 1888 is called "The Year of Three Emperors" in German history. Wilhelm's grandfather Wilhelm I died on March 9, 1888 and was succeeded by Frederick III. Frederick was already gravely ill and lived only three months more, dying on June 15, 1888 when Wilhelm II succeeded to the throne, and Augusta became Empress of Germany (Kaiserin in German).

Wilhelm lost his throne in the aftermath of World War I, and they went into exile in the Netherlands in 1918. Her health had started to fail though even before the exile, and she died on April 11, 1921. She had wanted to be buried in Germany, but this meant that Wilhelm would never be able to visit her grave. The German government agreed to the burial, but insisted that the special train that carried her coffin only travel at night and that there should be no announcement of the arrangements. Despite these conditions the 600-kilometer route through Germany was lined with people, and she was buried at the Temple of Antiquity which had been built by Frederick the Great. More than 200,000 people lined the route of the funeral cortege.

There is now recorded three versions of Augusta Victoria (although it is still unknown why there are so many):

1. The portrait above - Augusta Victoria (body facing forward, head facing half left) - this version is mounted in a typical Stevens mount, but there is no weavers name.

2. Augusta Victoria (body facing half right, head facing half left) - this version is un-mounted.

3. Augusta Victoria, Empress of Germany - this portrait is mounted with the printed title.

The research by members of the Stevengraph Collectors Association has identified two original photographs for comparison with the woven silk - as shown above. The photograph on the right is almost identical to the silk, whilst the one on the left has her printed name, " AUGUSTA VICTORIA, Deutsche Kaiserin, Konigin von Preussen ", and is dated 1888.

As noted above, Wilhelm II succeeded to the throne on 15 June 1888, and it would seem that the portrait silk above was created for that succession. It is however unknown why it was never issued, or at least, why very few were issued.


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This page was created on 30 April 2012
coloured image added 20 May 2012. Photographs and revised wording added 12 March 2018 © Peter Daws
Web site address: www.stevengraph-silks.com