This is an ultra high-quality Cabinet Photograph of Kaiser Wilhelm I (1797-1888), who was Prussia’s König, as well as the Empire’s Kaiser. Wilhelm I was König Friedrich Wilhelm III’s second son. It was Friedrich Wilhelm III (1770-1840) who led Prussia during the Napoleonic Wars against Napoleon, when Prussia was allied with Russia and Great Britain. Wilhelm I’s elder brother Friedrich Wilhelm IV (1795-1861) assumed the throne upon their father’s 1840 death. Friedrich Wilhelm IV ruled Prussia during very stressful times including the 1848 Revolution. In 1857, King Friedrich Wilhelm IV suffered a stroke and was incapacitated. Wilhelm I then stepped in as Regent for his older brother, a role he maintained until Friedrich Wilhelm IV’s death in 1861. Wilhelm I became King of Prussia that same year. He then worked with Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) and General Staff Chief Helmuth von Moltke (1800-1891) to guide Prussia and Germany toward a path of consolidation and centralization. The journey reached its culmination in 1871 when Wilhelm I became Germany’s first Emperor.
Cabinet Photograph is a larger version of the CdV, an extremely popular Victorian-era photograph. This example measures 4 ½” x 6 ½.” It was produced by the Berlin photographic studio of Reichard & Lindner Hofphotograph. The firm was one of the House of Hohenzollern’s official house photographers (as well as several other royals. The studio was located on the famous Berlin street Unter den Linden (Nr 54/55). The photograph’s reverse displays awards they received along with the Coats-of-Arms of the royals they served. [This studio was allowed to take the official deathbed photographs of Kaiser Wilhelm I, AND his son, Kaiser Friedrich III, so the royal family must have held them in the highest regard].
In this pose, the elderly Kaiser is wearing his Generalfeldmarschall’s dress uniform, complete with epaulettes and general’s sash. He is wearing an interesting assortment of medals, including the Kette for the Hohenzollern House Order and the Orden Pour le Mérite with Oak Leaves around his neck. He is wearing a huge medal bar with more than ten medals on his chest, as well as an impressive number of pinback awards (including breast stars). His 1870 Grand Cross of the Iron Cross is also prominently displayed. The photograph is in excellent condition.