Hereditary Prince Ludwig in his first year of life

One of the earliest depictions of Ludwig II dates from 1846. The originally coloured drawing shows the infant sitting upright with a bonnet, a little gown and a rattle. The finely drawn portrait is by the portrait miniature painter Adolf Grotefend (1812-1847), who was trained in Munich and mainly received commissions from the Munich court and other aristocratic circles.

As was customary at the time, the Bavarian prince was placed in the care of a wet nurse immediately after birth. She was a healthy and strong farmer’s wife from Miesbach, whose name has not been handed down. In the first months Ludwig developed well and prospered splendidly. When he was about six months old, his nurse died unexpectedly of severe meningitis in the spring of 1846. The infant Ludwig also fell ill and had to be abruptly weaned. This weakened his physical condition considerably, he was sickly for several months and suffered from severe febrile convulsions. As the later autopsy report proves, he had contracted meningitis himself.

The hereditary prince’s parents were staying in Berlin at that time, because Ludwig’s grandmother Marianne of Hessen-Homburg (1785-1846) was dying. His mother Marie wanted the infant to be brought to Berlin so that she could take care of him herself. But Ludwig had become so weak and sickly that his personal physician Franz Xaver von Gietl (1803-1888) advised against him travelling. When the mother returned to Munich in July 1846, her son had recovered from his struggles.

Julia Misamer