©Elias Touil

ISABELLE R., collector

ISABELLE R., secretary, collector of objects related to Sissi, Empress of Austria 

“My mother didn’t realize the basis of my love for my collection.”

Faced with a child with too much energy, Isabelle’s mother resorted to putting her daughter in front of the television. Luckily, a rebroadcast of the film Sissi – The Young Empressfascinated the child, who was taken with the beauty and elegance of the actress Romy Schneider and developed a fascination for her character.

Several years later, while passing through a bookstore at the age of 12, Isabelle found a book whose cover page had a photo of Romy Schneider. Expecting to read a book about films, she discovered the tumultuous true story of Elisabeth, Empress of Austria (1854-1898).

  • ©Elias Touil
  • ©Elias Touil
  • ©Elias Touil
  • ©Elias Touil
  • ©Elias Touil
  • ©Elias Touil
  • ©Elias Touil

Isabelle continued to admire Sissi after learning about her tragic fate. “She was a woman who fought for her freedom, who did a lot for the status of women during a time when men dominated. She fought for marriages of love between people, regardless of their social status.”

Since then, she has collected more than 400 objects,including postcards and photos of the Empress and her family: the Emperor, Franz Joseph l of Austria, her son Rudolph, her sister Duchess Helene in Bavaria, etc. The collection has a library of 200 booksFrench newspapers from the periodmovie posters, and film and television programs, the vast majority from Europe.

She has also acquired two medals in honor of the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the reign of Franz Joseph l as well as a medal of courage bearing the effigy of the Emperor.

During a trip to Austria, Isabelle was impressed by the influence the Empress had in the country, even more than 115 years after her death. She brought back several figurines that enriched her collection.

In 1997, a hike was held in Bavaria (Germany) in honor of Sissi, and the organizers created this souvenir medal.

It is interesting to note that Elisabeth of Austria was herself a collector of photographs of women of all classes and social status. She even asked the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the empire to bring some pictures of beautiful women in countries where they were (actresses, maids. etc.) to enrich its collection.

A passion for the art of collecting is certainly not new and was once popular with royalty!