previous pagenext page
Lafayette L2826b
Neg. Date: 11-10-1901

copyright V&A

Daisy, Princess of Pless (1873-1943)

This full-length portrait made in 1901 shows off Daisy’s beauty to its full extent – her slim figure, her tiny waist and the perfect proportions of her body. Her self-confidence, reflected in the flirtatious pose that she adopted, adds to an overall image of her youthfulness, charm and affability.

This slightly forward aspect to the portrait, as well as Daisy’s seeming lack of modesty in front of the camera lens, is not altogether surprising. After all, the princess was used to performing for an audience, as she often sang and acted at private parties as well as at public charity events which in itself was the action of a headstrong young woman, as Daisy herself wrote after her first concert in Berlin in 1909 that “I am always told that German ladies and Princesses do not sing in public.”

Her first music teacher was Sir Paolo Tosti (1846–1916), an Italian composer of salon and parlour music, who settled in London and was later appointed singing master to the British royal family. As Daisy recalled, her next teacher, Mr Vanuchini from Florence, was “enthusiastic about the possibilities of my voice and told my father he would train me for nothing if I would promise to learn Italian and French and adopt singing as a career. Of course I was enchanted; I was born with a love of singing and acting...”

This love stayed with Daisy for many years to come, and, whenever possible was nourished and cultivated. In the spring of 1904 she spent some weeks – “all the time I could spare” – in Paris studying voice production and dramatic interpretation under Jean de Reszke (1850–1925), the famous Polish tenor then living in France.

The hostility Daisy had faced at the beginning of her life in Germany was whittled down to some extent by her beautiful voice, or as a friend wrote in her photograph album in 1901 “A lovely voice is like an unseen hand playing the chords of our deepest feelings.” Her tenacity in behaving the way she was used to in England had won her husband’s permission to allow her to perform, in public, for good causes in Germany. One of these performances in February 1909 raised the large sum of five thousand and two hundred marks! She also performed at other events such as the song recitals in the theatre at the Pless’s hotel in Bad Salzbrunn (now Szczawno Zdrój) which were organised as fundraising events for Daisy’s own charities, one of them being the Waldenburg School for Cripples.

Ahead of her time, she even envisaged selling autographed recordings of her songs in music shops and at the end of her concerts!