Private View

A ‘You Were There’ special
We present rare pictures from the collection of Princess Marianne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein

It was at the early age of nine that the Princess – then still a baroness – received her first camera. Born in Salzburg in 1919 she attended the Blocherer Art school in Munich in 1938 before marrying Ludwig Prince zu Sayn- Wittgenstein-Sayn in 1942 and moving to Castle Sayn near Koblenz, the home of her husband’s ancestors. After the war as a weekend enjoyment she began to shoot pictures at racing circuits, first at the Bern GP, then the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, Spa and the nearby Nürburgring. She soon became ‘one of the gang’, as pictures by Karl Kling’s door or of Felice Bonetto smoking a cigarette reveal.

After the tragic and premature death of her husband in 1962 she was faced with raising ive children on her own, and decided to move back to her summer home at Lake Fuschl near Salzburg and start a career as a professional photographer. She quickly got acquainted with the famous, rich and important. Niki Lauda, Gunter Sachs, Sean Connery and Graham Hill – with whom she went skiing – were among her best friends, while Prince Charles and Margaret Thatcher attended the famous parties which she used to organise during the annual Salzburg Festival.

Since famous people felt comfortable in her presence, she captured them in unstrained and even comical situations, such as Maria Callas snorkelling with her poodles, or Aristotle Onassis trying to repair his beach car. She also gained applause for portraits of Dali and Warhol.

In the 1970s this grande dame slowly retired from the racing scene – with one exception. In 1998 she was asked by BMW to cover the Le Mans 24 hours. So at the age of 78 Marianne acquired press credentials – and did a fabulous job. Thomas Imhof

Thanks to the Rheingalerie Bonn for permission to use these pictures