Etikettarkiv: Dresden

Cecilia’s Album: Lovisa and Eugenia Dethmar

Lovisa (or Louise) Edgren (born Dethmar) was a beloved teacher. Unfortunately, there is not a single portrait of her. When the family Edgren’s private school for girls closed in 1844, the students kept in touch with each other and with their former teacher through letters, reminiscing about this wonderful time in their lives.

Lotten Westman’s letter to Augusta, Stockholm, 18 December 1845.

“Lucky Augusta who gets letters from Mrs. Edgren! Greet her a thousand times from me. Tell her that I still worship her as warmly as when I said goodbye to her for the last time, and when I start talking about them, it is always an inexhaustible topic and at those times, I forget both time and place and it takes me back to the happy times when I was educated by them; when a smile and a friendly word by Mrs. Edgren sent me to the seventh heaven. Tell her all this, and say that if in the future, whether I get ever so happy or unhappy, I will never forget them. Oh, when I just think of them, I get overly joyous.”

Lovisa Dethmar was born in 1802 at Reckenburg, an estate close to Anholt in southwestern Germany close to the Dutch border. Her father, Friedrich Wilhelm Dethmar, born in 1773, was the pastor in Anholt and a writer. Lovisa had at least two sisters, Eugenia, born in 1806, and Adelheid Clementine Therese, born in 1809. One sister moved to England.

When Lovisa was young, she was sent to Dresden to study. She was already a great artist and good at playing the harp. During her studies, she got interested in the works of the Swedish poet Atterbom and decided to visit Sweden. It is fascinating that a pastor’s daughter, in the early 1800s, was sent away to study so far from home. Dresden was famous for its architecture and art treasures and maybe she was sent to Dresden to study art? Or did she study literature? The fact that she traveled to Sweden because of an interest in poetry shows signs of independence and determination. Maybe it was these personality traits that made her such an engaging and loved teacher.

This is how I image Lovisa Dethmar in Dresden. Kerstin and I saw the painting there during our Augusta journey through Europe. The painting ”Woman on the Balcony was painted in 1824 by Carl Gustav Carus (1789-1869)

It was in Sweden she met her future husband, Johan Fredrik Edgren. He was an educated man and also a pastor. They were married in Anholt in 1838 and then settled in Stockholm. Lovisa’s sister, Eugenia, decided to join them and the same year, the family opened their private school for girls in Stockholm.

The school closed in June of 1844 when Pastor Edgren was appointed pastor at Morup’s parish on the Swedish west coast. As the girls in the school bade farewell to each other and the Edgren family, Cecilia got many cards for her memory album. But from some correspondence between Augusta and Lotten Westman, we believe that Cecilia actually stayed with the Edgren family in Morup after the school closed in Stockholm.


Lovisa Edgren wrote her greeting to Cecilia in her native German. The owner of Cecilia’s Memory Album kindly provided me with a translation of the German text to Swedish. The English translation is my own.

In Swedish: Endast det rika sinnet älskar, endast det fattiga begär.” (Schiller)
In English:None but the wealthy minds love; poor minds desire alone.”

(The quote is from Friedrich Schiller’s Liebe und Begierde:

Recht gesagt, Schlosser! Man liebt, was man hat, man begehrt, was man nicht hat;
Denn nur das reiche Gemüt liebt, nur das arme begehrt.


In Swedish: Dig, min Cecilia, blev ett så rikt sinne givet, även oss har det glädjat att leva tillsammans med Dig. Förhoppningsfullt var den korta tiden även för Dig ej förgäves ödslad. Detta önskar längtansfullt,

Din trogna väninna L. Edgren”

In English: You, my Cecilia, were given such a rich mind, we too have been delighted to have you with us. Hopefully, the short time was not wasted in vain even for You. This wishes longingly,

Your faithful friend L. Edgren”


Lovisa Edgren’s 38-year-old sister, Eugenia Dethmar, also wrote to Cecilia.


In Swedish:
”Dig ledsagar genom det vilda livet ett nådigt öde;
Ett rent hjärta gav dig naturen,
O! giv det så rent tillbaka!

Giv att världen möter dig så vänligt som du möter den,
giv att hon dig gör vad du gör henne,
så kan du bara bli lycklig.

Detta önskar dig din väninna E. Dethmar.”

In English:
”A merciful destiny shepherds you through the turbulent life;
Nature gave you a pure heart,
Oh! give it back so pure!

May the world treat you as kindly as you treat it,
may it do to you what you do to it,
then you can only be happy.

This is the wish of your friend, E. Dethmar”


The Meissen Souvenir

Ever heard of Meissen porcelain? It is one of the most famous porcelain manufacturer in Europe – since 1710.

Augusta visited Meissen on her journey in 1847. Meissen is not far from the city of Dresden and Augusta stopped there on her return trip from Prague. She didn’t write much about her visit:

”We only stayed in Dresden for one day and visited the large porcelain factory where we bought a few small things.”

A contemporary Swedish writer, Sophie von Knorring, visited the porcelain factory the year before and wrote a little bit more in her letter home:

”In the afternoon, we first went to the Catholic Church, the first one I have ever visited, and then to the porcelain factory. From all the many magnificent objects, I would not be able to bring home many, but the little I chose were so much more beautiful and expensive. You will see, when I return home ….”

Kerstin and I visited the Meissen porcelain factory on our journey last fall. We got to see the various steps in making porcelain dishes and figurines. And then we ended up in the gift shop. What should we buy?

Augusta bought a few small things to take home to Loddby, and Sophie von Knorring bought a few, beautiful and expensive things. But what were the things they bought?

Some of the refrigerator magnets from our journey last fall. Small, inexpensive souvenirs that will brighten your day.

We walked around and looked at some of the things we had seen being made during the factory tour. The prices were astronomical. There was really nothing in the gift shop that we could afford and also want….except for the usual souvenir – the refrigerator magnet.

We each bought one.

What would Augusta have thought of that?

A little painting that would stick onto a cold-cabinet in the kitchen – a cabinet where you could store milk and cheese and other things so you wouldn’t need to go to the cellar. If someone got hungry in the middle of the night, they could just go and grab something. Or you could pour yourself a glass of cold, white wine. What luxury! And why not decorate this cold cabinet with a little piece of art that would remind you of what you had seen on your exotic journey.

Augusta would never have believed it!

On the Balcony of Europe

”Of the walks within the city, Brühl’ s Terrace is remarkable. On one side, a high staircase with several landings leads up to the terrace; on the other side, the terrace is divided into several smaller terraces, one under the other. Here is an extremely beautiful view and in one of the large and lush boulevards, you will find an elegant restaurant.”   [ Augusta’s Diary, Dresden, 9 July 1847]

Yes, Brühl’s Terrace was famous – it was nicknamed ”The Balcony of Europe”. The terrace was built in the 16th century as part of Dresden’s fortification. It got its name from Count Heinrich von Brühl, a powerful minister who built his palace and gardens on the terrace. The original Brühl’s Terrace was destroyed in the 1945 bombing of Dresden; the terrace of today was built to resemble the original terrace.

When the steamship traffic on the Elbe took off in the 1840s, the ships moored just below the terrace. You could embark on a beautiful river journey that would take you almost all the way to Prague, that is, it would take you from Dresden to Obříství and from there, you would have to travel the rest of the way by horse and carriage. Even today, the Elbe steamships dock below the terrace.

Sophia von Knorring, a Swedish writer who in 1846 traveled down the Elbe onboard the steamship Bohemia, described Brühl’s Terrace in rather poetic terms:

The Steamship Bohemia

”At 5 am, we were riding in a good carriage from Hotel de Saxe on our way down to Bohemia. We were saying our farewell to the stately, lovely Dresden, where Brühl’ s Terrace stretched us a hand in a friendly farewell, because under its vertical walls, we boarded the steamship and spent a good half hour swaying on the Elbe before all the passengers had arrived, had stowed themselves and their things, and the machine had started; but at the stroke of 6, we departed …”

Another contemporary Swedish writer, Wilhelm von Braun, left Dresden in 1844 and made the following observations:

Following Hotel Stadt Berlin’s porter who carried my bag, I hurried to the nearby Elbe Bridge at the foot of  Brühl’ s Terrace, and to the steamship Bohemia, with which I intended to take a trip to Tetschen – as far as you can get by boat – and then continue the journey over Töplitz to Prague, the Austrian Empire’s Moscow.

When the bell tolled six, the machine started and the steamship Bohemia, flat as a bread trough in the face of Elbe’s shallow water, slowly moved away from this magnificent terrace, formerly a threatening fortress wall, now a peaceful walkway from the height of which I have so often enjoyed the most beautiful view of the Elbe and its densely populated mountainous shores and of its always crowded, 1400 ft long and with 17 arches built bridge [Augustus Bridge], where they walk, not as on Norrbro in Stockholm – pushing, squeezing, and butting into each other – but sensibly and always stepping to the right when wanting to pass each other on the bridge.

But what about the elegant restaurant Augusta mentioned? Nobody described any restaurants.

Handbook for Travellers on The Continent, published 1858 in London, describes the cafés on Brühl’s Terrace as follows:

Cafés: Those on the Brühl’ s Terrace, especially the Café Reale and the Belvedere, are much frequented in summer. The Café Reale has two wings; that nearest the bridge is for ladies, in which smoking is prohibited; on the opposite side it is allowed. Smoking is allowed on the ground floor at the Belvedere, but not in the supper room upstairs. Very fair instrumental music may often be heard at the Belvedere in summer evenings.

Belvedere was built in 1842, so it was quite new when Augusta visited. It was a beautiful building with large windows. Besides being used as a restaurant, it also housed two ballrooms, a drawing room, and a gallery. It was destroyed in the 1945 bombing of Dresden. Currently, there are plans to reconstruct it.

Cafe Belvedere, Dresden

Café Reale was built in 1843. Its architecture was inspired by Greek temples. It had several salons and it also allowed guests to dine outside. It became very popular due to its Italian pastry chef, Torniamenti. In 1886, the café was demolished to make space for the new Academy of Arts.

Cafe Reale, Dresden
#CafeBelvedere #BruhlsTerrace #Dresden

Who knows what restaurant Augusta visited? If Augusta had lived today, she probably would have taken a picture of her dish; maybe she had an ice cream glace, with a wafer – and shared it on Instagram with hashtags #CafeBelvedere or #CafeReale.

Kerstin and I visited Brühl’s Terrace and looked out over the Elbe and the moored steamboats. We walked down the wide staircase where a brass orchestra was entertaining flâneurs and tourists alike.

As there were no restaurants on the terrace, we went to Vapiano and raised our glasses of rose wine in honor of Kazuo Ishiguro, who had just received the Nobel Prize in literature.

Kerstin walking on Brühl’s Terrace
Sara taking in the view of the Elbe




The Madonna in Dresden

When Augusta mentioned that Dresden’s art gallery was “indisputable the most pleasant reminder of the Kings of Saxony’s appreciation for art” and “held in the highest esteem by the entire travelling and educated world” I was looking forward to visiting the Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister.

She especially mentioned a painting by Rafael:

    “Naturally, we spent most of our time in the room where the world-renowned Madonna di San Sisto, and other excellent paintings of Rafael are shown.”

Augusta was not the only Swedish traveler who mentioned this room and the Madonna painting. Sophie von Knorring was a Swedish writer who visited Dresden in 1846, a year before Augusta. She published a book from her letters home:

    “With the catalog in hand and  having walked through several rooms,  we finally arrived in the room where Rafael’s masterpiece, the world-renowned Madonna is hanging. But no! We could not see much of it! The heavenly-wonderful painting was hidden by a large framework and by a painting, on which the Madonna in the same size was being copied – and the copyist was a woman!”

Sophie von Knorring (1797 – 1848). Drawing by Maria Röhl (1801 - 1875).
Sophie von Knorring (1797 – 1848). Drawing by Maria Röhl (1801 – 1875).

Sophie von Knorring  voiced her irritation at not being able to see the original, and she also did not approve of a woman painter.

Her companion tried to placate her by praising the copyist’s work.

    “You have to admit that her work is beautiful.”

But Sophie was so upset that she didn’t even want to glance at the copied work. Then she heard, from the top of the scaffolding, in clear Swedish:

    “Oh, I hear that you are my fellow countrymen, and I am sorry that I am in the way for everyone, but especially for you!”

The painter was Sophie Adlersparre, a young Swedish woman who was studying art in Dresden. Her education there was financed by Queen Josefine of Sweden.

Sophie Adlersparre descended from the scaffolding and joined Sophie von Knorring and her companion and was happy to give them a guided tour through the museum. All was well again.

Sophie Adlersparre (1808-1862) self portrait.
Sophie Adlersparre (1808-1862) self portrait.

And now, we were visiting the famous gallery, on a windy, rainy October day – 170 years after Agusuta’s visit. I have to admit, that I have never taken an art history class. And I didn’t even look up the painting before visiting the gallery in Dresden – I wanted the painting to be a surprise.

After walking through several floors and many rooms of Renaissance paintings, we finally stood in front of Rafael’s The Sistine Madonna or The Madonna di San Sisto. At that time, I wished I would have known more about the painting. All I knew was that Augusta had stood in awe in front of this painting and that Sophie von Knorring had met Sophie Adlersparre in this room.

I didn’t know that Dostoyevsky had described the painting as ”the greatest revelation of the human spirit”.

I also didn’t know that during WWII, the painting was stored in a tunnel in Saxon Switzerland (maybe close to where we were hiking?) and then brought to Moscow before returning to Dresden in 1955.

St. Olav’s Cathedral in Oslo
St. Olav’s Cathedral in Oslo

I was still more interested in the undocumented, personal story. For example, what happened to Sophie Adlersparre’s copy that she was working on? After some searching, I found it. Queen Josefine had gifted it to the Catholic Church in Oslo, Norway: St. Olav’s Cathedral, where it can still be seen at the right of the altar.

But the biggest surprise of all were the cherubs at the bottom of the painting! I had no idea that those famous cherubs were part of a larger painting, and now I have seen the original – thanks to Augusta’s diary.

Part of Rafael's The Madonna di San Sisto
Part of Rafael’s The Madonna di San Sisto

Augusta’s Visit to the Semperoper in Dresden


Augusta had a deep interest in music and she had a good voice. She even had a waltz dedicated to her: “La Belle du Nord – Valse pour le Piano. Offerte à Mademoiselle Augusta Söderholm par Gustav Eklund.”

Augusta took singing lessons from one of Stockholm’s famous opera singers, Mr. Isidor Dannström. He was already famous in the 1840’s along with Jenny Lind. So when Augusta and her mother traveled through Germany in 1847, they made sure to visit the opera in both Berlin and Dresden.

The opera in Dresden was designed by architect Gottfried Semper. When Augusta visited the magnificent opera house – the Semperoper – it was new, having opened in 1841.


Dresden, July 1847

In the evening we went to the Opera where the walls are blue and white with gold. The cushions and chairs are covered with red velvet. Irresistibly, however, one’s gaze is drawn to the circular, white ceiling which is adorned with golden arabesques and four oval medallions depicting in allegorical figures – the music, the tragedy, the comedy, and the arts – painted in the clearest of colors. Between them, four smaller medallions appear which represent Goethe’s, Schiller’s, Mozart’s, and Beethoven’s portraits. A tasteful lamp with 96 gas flames throw their rays over this masterpiece. The curtain is made of red velvet with golden fringes and it hangs with beautiful folds. The foyer is semicircular, from which glass doors lead into the loges. The walls in this foyer are white lacquered and the only ornaments are rich, bronze candelabra which are surrounded by milk-white glass. By the windows are placed elegant couches with large mirrors above which are niches with busts of Weber, Mozart, and Lessing.



Unfortunately, the opera house was destroyed by fire in 1869. It was rebuilt and opened again in 1878. The Semperoper was again destroyed during the bombing of Dresden in 1945, and again rebuilt in 1985.

On the 4th of  October, we are delighted to have tickets to the Semperoper – we will be thinking of Augusta!