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What It Was Like to Attend the Imperial Hofball

The Setting

Glowing exterior of the curved Hofburg exterior at night.
Glowing exterior of the curved Hofburg exterior at night.
Hofburg palace photo by Thoodor, CC BY-SA 3.0 AT via Wikimedia Commons.
A tall, rectangular room with gilded wall decorations and hanging lanterns.
A tall, rectangular room with gilded wall decorations and hanging lanterns.
The Redoutensaal today. Image by Wiener Hofburg Orchestra, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The Clothes

Two preserved period military dress uniforms with gold braid, ornate decorations, and tall leather boots.
Two preserved period military dress uniforms with gold braid, ornate decorations, and tall leather boots.
Uniform of the Royal Hungarian Life Guards (l) and the Arcière Life Guards (r) in the Army History Museum in Vienna. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
An unsmiling Empress Elisabeth wearing a gorgeous silver low-necked dress with tiny puff sleeves and a long train.
An unsmiling Empress Elisabeth wearing a gorgeous silver low-necked dress with tiny puff sleeves and a long train.
Empress Elisabeth circa 1880. Portrait by an unknown artist via gogmsite.net.

The Arrival

The Music

Johann Strauss II conducting the imperial orchestra.
Johann Strauss II conducting the imperial orchestra.
Artwork by Theo Zasche, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Ballroom filled with ladies in gowns waltzing, or standing around the emperor for a chat.
Ballroom filled with ladies in gowns waltzing, or standing around the emperor for a chat.
“Hofball in Wien” by Wilhelm Gause, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The Debutantes

Drawing of the ladies’ cercle. Maria Josepha sits on a dais, talking to two women standing near her.
Drawing of the ladies’ cercle. Maria Josepha sits on a dais, talking to two women standing near her.
That’s Archduchess Maria Josepha in the center, talking with two court ladies at a time. Crown Princess Stephanie and Archduchess Marie Valerie are seated on the right. Drawing by Theo Zasche, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The Food

Ladies seated at round tables in the tea salon. The salon features huge wall-size paintings and crystal chandeliers.
Ladies seated at round tables in the tea salon. The salon features huge wall-size paintings and crystal chandeliers.
Artwork by Artúr Lajos Halmi, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The Finale

The royal party exiting the ballroom, led by the uniformed Grand Master. Everyone else lines their path with bowed heads.
The royal party exiting the ballroom, led by the uniformed Grand Master. Everyone else lines their path with bowed heads.
Drawing by Theo Zasche, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Notes

Sources

Credits

Written by

I write about fascinating royal women, their jewels, and quirky aspects of royal history no one else talks about. Find me at https://girlinthetiara.com.

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