Based in London; Formerly of New York, Buenos Aires, Fife, and the Western Cape. Saoránach d'Éirinn.
A writer, blogger, historian, and web designer born in New York, educated in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa, and now based in London. read more


The photographs of “Manni” Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn

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 Yvonne Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn takes a swig from a bottle while her brother Alexander, just twelve, sits with a half-smoked cigarette. Taken aboard the yacht of Bartholomé March off Majorca in 1955, the photographer was 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 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 Albrecht 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.

This post was published on Monday, February 14th, 2011 8:00 am. It has been categorised under Art Germany Nobility and been tagged under , , .
14 Feb 2011 4:51 pm

The top one looks like lunch time chez Niles.

These are wonderful.

Baron v Hetterscheidt
14 Feb 2011 5:39 pm

Prince Ludwig was obviously a menace behind the wheel. Accident in 1950, fatal one in 1962, and how many in between?

Anyway, the forest winter picnic is magnificent.

S. Petersen
14 Feb 2011 10:30 pm

Every so often you spring these astounding photos on us. It’s almost enough to make one feel glad to be alive. The forest one is great, but I like the smoking prince. Ask him if he won’t start something rolling to make tobacco part of our cultural heritage.

Steve M
15 Feb 2011 5:18 pm

Outstanding. And customary in these parts.

valeria kondratiev
15 Feb 2011 8:08 pm

Great photos. The top one, the guzzling princess reminds me very much of one of my young cousins, who was also caught holding a champagne bottle the same way, for joking purposes. An adult saw her and made a comment before realizing there was only a few drops left in the bottle. the 1950 one really amazed me, the car is all smashed on the rrof yet the women’s outfits and hair, or headscarfs are in perfect shape! just like in the movies.

Alex Sepkus
16 Feb 2011 3:31 am

Dear Andrew,
For this post you deserve another donation. I’ll look for that PayPal button.
All the best.

2 Mar 2011 7:20 pm

My insuppressible modern American white guilt, liberal post-modern materialism, or some such complicated thing that lurks within me prompts me to comment:

I like these, but I wonder if I would find the topmost picture to be so charming if the children,rather than looking like tiny aristocrats, were instead poor and dirty.

I think I’d be inclined to pity or mock them as white trash and call for the lynching of their parents.

B T Van Nostrand
3 Mar 2011 8:50 am

Why shouldn’t the poor have the same pleasures as the rich?
Come on, Mr Cusack, find us a photo of our Appalachian brothers in a similar pose.
I think that I at least would find it equally enchanting.

4 Mar 2011 3:34 am

B T Van Nostrand: Funny you should mention Appalachia. That is where I am from. Specifically, the coal-rich foot hills of the middle Ohio Valley, where Kentucky and West Virginia rub uncomfortably against each other along the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy river. Where the Hatfields and McCoys shot each other. And where dirty children drink and smoke. But I don’t think anyone has ever bothered to photograph them.

8 Mar 2011 5:24 pm

A winter picnic!! How lovely. :) I want to have one too!

Andrew Cusack
8 Mar 2011 8:10 pm

Sara, you’re on!

But not in Finland. Too much snow for a winter picnic!

Hermann G. Hochrainer
12 Jan 2013 10:14 pm

The photo showing princess Yvonne and prince Alexander remembers
me the happy days at Kogl castle (Upper Austria, owned by the
father of Marianne Sayn-Wittgenstein, count Friedrich Mayr-Melnhof
) where we climbed together at the trees of the park in the early

Hermann G. Hochrainer
12 Jan 2013 10:16 pm

The photo showing princess Yvonne and prince Alexander
remembers me the happy days at Kogl castle (Upper Austria,
owned by the father of Marianne Sayn-Wittgenstein,
count Friedrich Mayr-Melnhof) where we climbed together
at the trees of the park in the early fivetees…

Arvine Petite
11 Mar 2014 1:54 pm

I found very interesting and pertinent the comment of Mister Wac (2 march 2011) about prinzess Yvonne and prinz alexander .
When i saw the picture for he first time (I had some exemplars under my eyes recently) I though ” wouah , is it an aristocratic bodega ? And people are now alarmed about children drinking and smoking !! hahaha !”
But certainly these beautiful children are not stoned or drunk. And They certainly have more fun that the appalachian children doing this. They play adults… Not to escape hungry stomac ..
BUT, I found Marianne zu Sayn_Wittgenstein-Sayn a great photographer !!!

Leave a comment

Name (required)

Email (required)



Home | About | Contact | Categories | Paginated Index | Twitter | Facebook | RSS/Atom Feed | © Andrew Cusack 2004-present (Unless otherwise stated)