Monday, August 13, 2012

Princess Eugenie of Sweden and Norway

 (Stockholm Palace, 24 April 1830 – 23 April 1889 in Stockholm) was a member of the Royal House of Bernadotte and a dilettante artist.


Eugénie was born to King Oscar I of Sweden and Josephine of Leuchtenberg. She had weak health from birth, and it was therefore decided early that she should not marry. She did accompany her brother Charles to Prussia in 1846 with the thought that she might be presented there as a prospective bride, but no serious negotiations were ever made.

She said that this gave her the opportunity to live an independent life. When unmarried adult women in Sweden were granted legal majority in 1858 (initially only if they applied for it), she became perhaps the first woman in Sweden to request, and be granted, legal independence. When the siblings were little, one of their teachers took ill with tuberculosis, but was allowed to remain in employment, which may have affected the health of some of the children. Eugenie sometimes felt alone as a child: she was later to say, that during her childhood, she had the wish to be a boy just like her brothers were.

In 1852, during the royal family's visit in Oslo, several of them were taken ill. Eugenie had pneumonia, and her health never fully recovered from this. She also lost her "darling brother"; Prince Gustaf, Duke of Uppland, her favorite among her siblings, which affected her. She was an active Christian and interested in spiritual things. She was however, not a believer of any Christian belief in particular, but listened to several different Christian branches.

Eugenie was interested in many forms of art. She composed music, wrote poems,sculptured and painted the everyday life of the royal court. One of her friends was the writer Lina Sandell. Some of her designs were made into porcelain ornaments inRörstrand and Gustavsberg. The most well-known piece of art attributed to her (incorrectly, however) is a drawing of a child and a dog called "Can't You Speak?", which became very popular as such an ornament. She wrote a book, Svenska prinsessor (English:Swedish Princesses), which was published in 1864 with a German book she had translated to Swedish, and her work was represented at the Stockholm Art Exhibition of 1866.

She used the income from her art to finance her social projects. Royal women were expected to take up charitable causes, but it is said that Eugenie's interest in social issues was genuine and not a duty. She freely gave away her money, to such an extent that her brother, the king, gave instructions to the governors in the cities his sister visited to "protect" his sister from "insolent beggars."

She had pneumonia several times, and was forced to confine herself to the few warm rooms in the royal palace during the winters. Her poor health gave her an interest in medicine, and she founded two orphanages and a home for incurables near her summer residence, Fridhem on Gotland, an island were she spent her summers since 1859. She founded an organization to help the handicapped and terminally ill children (1879), as well as Eugeniahemmet, a hospital for sick children (1882).

Sample of compositions

Piano compositions
  • Drottning Josephinas polonaise, (Queen Josephines polonaise) (1854)
  • Louisa vals (The waltz of Louisa) (1858?)
  • La priere (1844)
  • Sorgmarsch, (Marsch of mourning), to the memory of Queen Louise (1871)
  • Tullgarns-galopp (The Tullgarn gallop) (1853)

  • Novemberkvällen (November evening)
  • Fiskaren (The fisherman) (1850)
  • Romans vid piano (Romance at the piano) (1859)
  • Sång Orden af Tibell (The Song order of Tibell) (1863)
  • Augusta-dagen (The day of Augusta) (1865)

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