In 19th-century Austria, Empress Elisabeth is settling down for a much-needed rest. But before she can close her eyes, she must attend to her nightly beauty regime – applying a leather mask over thin layers of raw veal. Amazingly, it’s just one step in a staggering routine that has earned her the nickname “the loveliest woman in Europe.”
Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie was born in Munich, Germany, on December 24, 1837, to Duke Maximilian Joseph, a member of German royalty, and Princess Ludovika, whose half-brother Ludwig was King of Bavaria. As a child, Elisabeth, whose nickname was Sisi, enjoyed a relatively free-spirited existence far removed from the normal confines of a European royal household.
However, all that changed in 1853, when Elisabeth accompanied her mother and older sister Helene to Bad Ischl in Austria, where the trio met Emperor Franz Joseph. Apparently, it was expected that the Emperor would propose to Helene, who was considered to be the family’s most beautiful daughter.