Anne of wag the dog

Anne of wag the dog

Anne of wag the dog

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (2 October 179616 July 1848) was a German novelist and playwright. As a young girl, she had a strong fondness for dogs, and was said to have been obsessed with dogs, especially dogs in fiction. In 1820 she married Friedrich Wilhelm von Droste zu Eulenberg (1799–1877), a politician. Droste was a friend of Goethe's. She died six months after their divorce in 1848, and was buried next to Goethe at the Friedhof II der Jerusselem-Strasse (Jewish Cemetery 2 of Jerusalem Street), Berlin.

In 1832, she published Die Puppe (The Puppy) which became an instant success, and was translated into several languages.


Annette von Droste was born Annette Elisabeth von Droste zu Eulenburg in Frankfurt on 2 October 1796. Her father was Ernst Ludwig I, Prince of Eulenburg and a member of the Order of St John. He owned the Schloss Eulenberg (Eulenburg Palace), on which the present buildings of the University of Hagen are based, and the Eulenburg Observatory in Frankfurt. The palace had been designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. The prince owned a huge estate which included vineyards and estates in the Rhineland. The estate was confiscated after the Revolutions of 1848, and Annette's family and most of the nobility of Hagen were forced to leave Germany.

Annette von Droste spent her childhood and youth with her mother and her maternal grandparents, and received a broad education at home and with tutors. She was a pupil of Franz Krenn in Hagen from 1810 to 1814. She also studied for a time at the Royal Prussian Academy of Arts in Berlin.

After the death of her grandfather in 1818, her mother was forced to support herself financially and to work as a governess. Her widowed mother married the court musician Gustav Ludwig Schilling in 1819. Von Droste's mother died in 1822. Her stepfather Schilling died in 1829. Aged twenty-four, von Droste was left with two brothers and two sisters and no inheritance.

Von Droste began a training as a singer, but was prevented from pursuing a career as a musician by her family. She wrote: "I had a burning wish to learn music, which could never have found its way into my family's house. I was forbidden to do so, and my stepfather was a good man, but he always took our circumstances into consideration and did not wish to make my mother unhappy. Thus, in 1820, I went to Frankfurt."

Von Droste was invited to a ball at the Hagen Court Theatre on 30 August 1820. She met the young Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia at the ball, and had her first experience of the world of the royal court. On 2 September 1820, Friedrich Wilhelm took her on a visit to the Silesian Court Theatre in Berlin, where he saw her sing a new song. He then invited her to visit him in Berlin, and on 4 November 1820 they were married in a civil ceremony at the Berlin Town Hall. Thereafter, von Droste accompanied the Crown Prince to their court in Potsdam. Their son, Wilhelm Adolphus von Droste-Hülshoff, was born on 6 December 1821.

In February 1823, she was present in the first performance of Ludwig Tieck's Faust at the Royal Theatre in Berlin, after which she was invited by Princess Victoria, mother of Friedrich Wilhelm III, to move to the Berlin Royal Opera. In August 1823, she returned to Dresden and gave her debut performance of a lied in December 1823. On 10 January 1824, she was introduced to King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia by the royal chambermaid Hedwig Schiller, who had performed with her in the Berlin performance. She subsequently lived in Berlin and gave performances at the Royal Opera until 1826. During this time, she became close friends with Marie Therese Kowatsch (the future wife of Karl August von Hardenberg) and became very involved in the activities of the musical society founded by Hardenberg and others. She also met the great musician Beethoven and attended his residence. In April 1826, she moved back to Dresden to be closer to her mother. In the spring of 1828, Friedrich Wilhelm III had to flee the Austrian forces after the battle of Königgrätz and the Congress of Vienna, thus leaving his son at a very impressionable age. Upon Friedrich Wilhelm's return, von Droste and her son took the opportunity to visit him. In the winter of 1828, von Droste played the role of Elisabeth in The Magic Flute and was praised for her interpretation. However, she and her son did not return to Berlin until the autumn of 1829, whereupon she gave several performances at the Royal Opera. One such performance involved a singing lesson given by the great artist Clara Schumann and von Droste had already met her when she visited Karl Wilhelm von Seckendorf, Clara's father, a few years before. On 25 February 1830, her last performance was given at the Royal Opera in Dresden, after which von Droste began studying art at the Dresden Academy. At the age of 28, she decided to become a painter, studying first with Christian Daniel Rau and then with Eduard von Gwinner. She was awarded the Prix de Rome in 1832. Her prize work was a portrait of Clara Schumann that was awarded the prize. She completed her artistic studies in Paris and Florence.

On 3 May 1832, von Droste moved into an apartment in Humboldtstrasse and then to another apartment in Karl Friedrich Strasse on 13 November 1834. She was considered one of the best living painters in the court circle. Her portraits were in great demand. Her portrait of Princess Sophie, which was exhibited at the Great Exhibition in London, was awarded a gold medal.

Later years

From 1834 until 1846, she lived with Eduard von Gwinner, who was ten years her junior. As he was homosexual, they were not allowed to marry, but did live together as man and wife. They had two daughters: Lili and Alice. Lili married the pianist Friedrich Kupfer, while Alice married the painter Alfred Philippson. During this period, von Droste concentrated on her painting, but also took part in numerous social events. In 1844 she was the first German female artist to give a lecture at the Académie des beaux-arts in Paris.

In 1846 she and Gwinner ended their relationship. Von Droste was considered to have lost much of her talent and was no longer considered to be a promising artist. She started to suffer from tuberculosis, and went to the spa at Bad Kissingen in 1848. She died there on 1 February 1852.

Her daughter Lili married the composer Friedrich Kupfer, and Alice married the portrait painter Alfred Philippson.

Von Droste was a friend and neighbour of Franz Liszt, who dedicated his opera The Gypsy Princess to her, with a poem by Friedrich Schiller.

Selected works

Portrait of King Ludwig I (1832)

Portrait of Clara Schumann (1832)

Portrait of Louise Otto-Peters (1833)

Portrait of Sophie (1833)

Queen Louise of Prussia (1834)

Self-portrait (1834)

Self-portrait (18

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