Thursday, 25 September 2014

Move forward five centuries!

 The name Von Bredow is quite prominent in the histories of Germany and Russia.

Wladimir von Bredow, on leaving university as an engineer, was placed in charge of creating the first railways in Russia. It is he who was responsible for the building of the great Trans-Siberian Railway.

Each time the railway linked two major towns, the Tsar presented him with a fob commemorating the event. I still own one of those golden fobs. 

Wladimir von Bredow and family
Wladimir and his wife, Maria,  had two daughters, Maria and Julia.

Daughter Maria devoted herself to music, but Julia wanted more out of life. She was given the sort of education normally only granted to boys.

Exceptionally gifted, Julia spoke fourteen languages fluently, and excelled in other subjects too – but her desire to continue her education at university was blocked by the family. It was time for her to behave like a woman, and get married.

Julia rebelled and ran away to study art in Paris. The family disowned her. She was on her own.
Julia's Copy of Madonna della seggiola by Raffaello
From art school, she became an official copyist in the Louvre. She specialised in copies of the Mona Lisa and was actually copying the picture when it was stolen.

The painting was recovered two weeks later – or so they said. But Julia insisted, the painting that returned was not the one she had been copying.

Having made a small fortune as a successful copyist, Julia set out to travel round the world. But she only got as far as Italy, to Capri, where she fell in love with the local schoolmaster, Ferdinando Gamboni.

Julia wrote to tell her parents that she was getting married to a schoolmaster and, despite having disowned her, they rushed to Capri to stop the marriage.
But they too fell in love with Ferdinando, gave their blessing and bought the couple a house, Villa Mercedes. 
Villa Mercedes (on extreme left) perched above the Faraglioni on Capri

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