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Catalina Homar


Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria was born 1847 in Florence as a cousin of the Hapsburg emperor. For the purpose of scientific studies in the Balearic Islands, he first came to Mallorca in 1867, and almost immediately fell in love with this island, its people and its cultural traditions. In 1872, he decided to settle here for good. The Arxiduc spent much of his life on this island, until the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the year before his death. His countless activities incuded writing an encyclopaedic œuvre of the Balearic natural history in seven volumes (Die Balearen in Wort und Bild geschildert). The tomes were published, one at a time, between 1870 and 1891.


In 1885, Ludwig Salvator made the acquaintance of a local girl, Catalina Homar, the daughter of a carpenter from Deià, when she was 17 years old. Pretty soon the Archduke made her the administrator of his s’Estaca estate near Deià, where she was celebrated for her success in cultivating grapes (wines produced under her stewardship from local Malvasia grapes won prizes in Paris and Chicago). Rumours have it that the young lady also became the Archduke’s lover.

In 1899, the Archduke journeyed by boat from Mallorca to the Holy Land; amongst Ludwig Salvator’s travel companions was Catalina Homar, now 31 years old. On this journey she caught an infection by a disease similar to leprosy. She died from that illness in 1905. After her death, the Archduke wrote a small book under the title Catalina Homar, paying homage to her generous spirits, her unparalleled success in cultivating grapes, her love of animals and nature, as well as celebrating her exceptional character.


I took this photo at an exhibition at the Cartuja in Valldemossa, Mallorca, Spain. The date: January 7th, 2009. The time was 14:11:22. The original photo must have been taken in 1885 or shortly thereafter.

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