IT’S A CRACKING photo; the sort of thing guaranteed to irk the puritanical and bring a smile to the good-humoured. The thirteen-year-old Princess Yvonne Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn takes a swig from a bottle while Prince Alexander, just twelve, sits with a half-smoked cigarette. Taken aboard the yacht of Bartholomé March off Majorca in 1955, the photographer was Princess Marianne “Manni” Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn — the mother of Yvonne and Alexander — who’s known by her photographic soubriquet of “Mamarazza”.
Princess Manni was born in Salzburg in 1919, the daughter of Friedrich Baron Mayr-Melnhof and his wife Maria Anna Countess von Meran. The eldest of nine children, she received a camera from her parents in 1935 and began a lifelong love of photography.
Studying at Munich during the war, she met Prince Ludwig zu Sayn-Wittgenstein who was on leave from the front, and the pair were engaged within days. Married in 1942, their daughter Yvonne was born in December of that year with Alexander following a year later. When the war ended the castle at Sayn was severely damaged by bombs, and the family considered emigrating to Brazil before they decided to stay, rebuild, and put their farms back in order.
Prince Ludwig was killed in a car accident in 1962, and Manni had to manage the family affairs until Prince Alexander came into his majority. From the 1970s, her photographs began appearing in magazines, and from 1991 has been shown at exhibitions in galleries. Though 92 years old, the Princess is still going strong, as is her son Alexander Konrad Friedrich Heinrich, Furst zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, who now serves as vice-president of Europa Nostra and president of Europa Nostra Deutschland.
Car accident after the baptism of Prince Albrecht of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein, 14 May 1950. The driver Prince Ludwig zu Sayn-Wittgenstein with Princess Beatrix zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein, Hella Princess of Bavaria, and Princess Clementine von Croy.
Baroness Teresa Thyssen with Count Ivan Batthyani, 1950.
Prince Ludwig zu Sayn-Wittgenstein sunbathing, October 1956
A winter picnic in the forest.
Potato harvest at Sayn. Prince Ludwig (left with hat), Princess Yvonne (on horseback), Prince Alexander and Princess Elisabeth of Sayn-Wittgenstein, Hans-Carl Baron and Baroness of Marlies von Friesen, Hanna Merl, Maria Fiedler, Luzia Dietz and others.