Monday, September 29, 2014

Museum Monday: Pope's Tavern and Empress Carlota

Pope's Tavern in Florence, Alabama, is an early 18th century tavern where travelers on the Trace often stopped and spent the night. One such guest was Andrew Jackson. The old tavern survived and is now a museum filled with period antiques. Today I'm going to showcase one of those antiques.
 It is the bisque bust of Carlota, Empress of Mexico. She was actually born Princess Charlotte in Belgium on June 7, 1840. At 17, she married Maximilian, who was appointed Emperor of Mexico by Napoleon III. As a wedding gift, Napoleon commissioned the bisque bust of Carlota, At the time, she was considered one of the most beautiful women in the world.

Of course, things didn't go well for Princess Charlotte, who used the Spanish version of her name. The Mexican people revolted against her husband's rule. She returned to Europe to gain support for her husband. While she was in Europe, her husband's government was overthrown and he was executed by Benito Juarez. It is reported his last words were of his absent wife. "Poor Carlota."
Carlota had a mental collapse. She never regained her health. She spent sixty years seclusion in Miramar Castle and Bouchout Castle and died of pneumonia at age 86 in 1927. 

The bisque bust was rescued by a family during the overthrow of Maximilian. The family escaped to America. Later they gave the bust to an American family who had helped them when they were refugees. The bust was passed down through that family and one of the descendants married a man from Florence, Alabama. They sold the bust to the Susan K. Vaughn museum and it was donated to Pope's Tavern.  It is a such a beautiful sculpture and the detail is beautiful. I loved the roses, lacework and gold trim on her dress. Plus it survived in excellent condition. 

1 comment:

yrabedra said...

what an amazing story....thank you