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Study (c) SKB, Photo: Johannes Wagner

‘As soon as the children were capable of eating on their own they were allowed to lunch with him in his study – often as many as eight at a time.’


Here the emperor began his work every day at four o’clock in the morning. At six o’clock, after the first files had been dealt with and collected, the valet-de-chambre served the monarch his breakfast at his desk. The files that had been signed off lay on the right of the desk, while those that still required the emperor’s attention lay on the left. As a rule, his breakfast consisted of tea or coffee and rolls, Gugelhupf (a sweet sponge cake) or sweet milk rolls. After breakfast the emperor enjoyed a cigar. Around eleven o’clock Franz Joseph had a ‘second breakfast’ or elevenses, served at a small table between the armchairs in front of the fireplace. This usually consisted of soup and stewed meat, accompanied by vegetables and bread rolls together with a glass of wine or beer. The emperor took his main meal around five in the afternoon, usually in the company of an archduke. This consisted of soup followed by Franz Joseph’s favourite dish of boiled fillet of beef, roast meat, a dessert and fruit.

 Since the emperor’s study was also his drawing room, it was decorated with numerous small family photographs as well as two of the famous portraits of the empress that Franz Xaver Winterhalter executed as private commissions for the monarch and which depict Elisabeth with her hair loose.

Behind the desk and thus facing the emperor as he worked was the emperor’s favourite painting, Winterhalter’s portrait of the empress with her abundant hair draped aross her breast.

Above the fireplace is a portrait of the Russian tsar, Alexander II, who was a personal friend of the emperor and had lent his support in the crushing of the Hungarian revolts of 1848/49. Photographs of his children and grandchildren provided the finishing touches to the decoration of the room.

Franz Joseph was a family man and a delightful grandfather. Accounts by his court officials describe grandchildren ‘rolling around’ on the carpet in their Opapa’s study, and how the emperor gave them used envelopes and coloured pencils for them to draw on. ‘As soon as the children were capable of eating on their own they were allowed to lunch with him in his study – often as many as eight at a time.’


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