Pretty, Powerful, Perishable.
Photographs from the Prince Ernst
August of Hanover Collection.
Edited by Bodo von Dewitz.
Steidl / Edition 7L,
224 pp., 180 color illustrations, 9½x13".
This project has been cancelled by the publisher.
State portraits have always been a powerful
means of royal self-promotion. For centuries painting
was largely sustained by court patronage—
the permanent, glamorous representation of each
commissioning head of state helped to safeguard
his dominance. Then along came photography,
and everyone could afford to be immortalized.
Nonetheless the royal court around the Welfen
dynasty in Hanover let itself be photographed
repeatedly. The royals contracted photographers,
gave away pictures of themselves, and in return
received photographs from others which they
kept in albums and portfolios, until they had an
extensive collection. This collection, which is still in
the possession of Prince Ernst August of Hanover,
has survived the collapse of the dynasty it records.
Its reflection of family and social relations is not
just the US Weekly of its era, full of sumptuous
clothing and props and hints of the good life,
but also a politically significant documentation
of European social and familial political networks.
Pretty, Powerful, Perishable, is a primary source
document, an endless source of curiosity and a
spirited reflection of a lost epoch.
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