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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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Bringing down a kingdom

Her dancing scandalised. She chased a critical journalist through the streets of Ballarat with a stockwhip.  But it was her relationship with King Ludwig I of Bavaria that saw a kingdom crumble.

1 Lola Montes, c. 1845 Joseph Karl Stieler. 2 Sketch of Lola Montes in the Green Room, 1855 John Michael Skipper. State Library of South Australia, B 9422/4. 3 Lola Montez, c. 1850 Southworth and Hawes. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Before Wallis Simpson there was Lola Montez. A dancer of dubious skill but seductive notoriety, Lola –an Irishwoman posing as a Spaniard – won the heart of a king. Sixty year-old King Ludwig I of Bavaria was so enamoured of Lola that he granted her land, stately home and title, neglecting his kingdom, wife and a growing appetite for constitutional monarchy in his subjects. Lola’s influence arguably forced the abdication of King Ludwig and her banishment from the kingdom of Bavaria. But not before he commissioned this sweetly provocative portrait attributed to Joseph Karl Stieler. Thence she travelled to the goldfields of Australia, where she thrilled and scandalised her audiences in equal measure in a burlesque performance entitled Lola in Bavaria.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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