Costume portrait, originally hung in the hall of mirrors at Rastatt Favorite Palace

A masked margravineThe costume portraits

Masked balls were a favorite in the Baroque period, as evidenced by the costumed portraits on the third floor of Favorite Palace. The small yet detailed paintings depict Margravine Sibylla Augusta, her husband Ludwig Wilhelm, and a young prince, in costume.

Costume portrait of Margravine Sibylla Augusta as a magician, Rastatt Favorite Palace

Costume portrait of the margravine as a magician.

The costumed Sibylla Augusta

The richly decorated costumes show great detail, such as delicately patterned fabrics, with pearl and stone beading. The variety of costumes is also impressive: Sibylla Augusta as a shepherdess, as a bacchante or as Goddess of the Hunt, Diana, as a Hungarian, a magician, or the embodiment of winter. National costumes, professions and mythological dress are also included. Originally, Sibylla Augusta had more than 70 portraits installed in the hall of mirrors of her new pleasure palace; 56 of them remain.

Costume portrait of Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm as a Turk, Rastatt Favorite Palace

Costume portrait of the margrave as a Turk.

Portraits of the margravial family

Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm appears in these costume portraits as a strangely dressed African, or as a Turk, no doubt inspired by his nickname, “Türkenlouis.” Some of the costumes have female equivalents. The prince poses as a small hunter, a “Moor”, or a harlequin. The gouache on vellum paintings are likely the work of Ludwig Ivenet. They were probably painted during Ludwig Wilhelm’s lifetime (1655–1707), and thus before Favorite Palace was built. Many of the frames are painted with lacquer decorations.

Sibylla Augusta dressed as a bacchante, painting at Favorite Palace
Sibylla Augusta dressed as a gardener, painting at Favorite Palace
Sibylla Augusta dressed as a slave, painting at Favorite Palace

Margravine Sibylla Augusta dressed as a bacchante, a gardener, and a slave.

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Masked balls at court

The paintings prove that masked balls were popular, even at the Margrave of Baden-Baden's court. Such events also allowed the hostess to wear clothing entirely different from what she usually wore, for example the dress of a commoner. At least some of the costumes must have really existed, as one of the coats from Ludwig Wilhelm's Persian costume was loot from the Turkish Wars.

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