Elisa von der Recke

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Portrait of Elisa von der Recke by Josef Friedrich August Darbes (1784; Märkisches Museum , Berlin)

Elisabeth Charlotte Constanzia von der Recke (born May 20, 1754 in Schönberg, Courland (Latvian: Skaistkalne, today Bauska parish , Latvia ); † April 13, 1833 in Dresden ) was a Baltic German poet, writer and hymn poet .


Portrait of Elisa von der Recke by Anton Graff (1797; Alte Nationalgalerie , Staatliche Museen zu Berlin )

Elisa von der Recke was born as the daughter of Count Friedrich von Medem and his wife Louise Dorothea von Korff . After the early death of her mother, Elisa received only a poor education in her grandmother's house. This forbade her to read books. After her father married again in 1767, Elisa lived again in his house, where her stepmother Agnes Elisabeth von Brukken (1718–1784) tried to give her a certain general education.

Elisa von der Recke, portrayed by Wilhelm Tischbein (around 1775)

In 1771 she married the chamberlain Georg Magnus von der Recke in Neuchâtel for reasons of class. The marriage toe was divorced in 1781. She worked as a diplomat for her half-sister, the Duchess Dorothea of ​​Courland . In 1787 von der Reckes wrote news of Cagliostro's notorious stay in Mitau in 1779 and his magical operations , which made them known throughout Europe in one fell swoop. Von der Recke relentlessly reckoned with Cagliostro's amorous advances towards her - while at the same time portraying his impostorful activities. In recognition of this work, Tsarina Katharina the Great turned her lifelong income from the domain estate Pfalzgrafen bei Mitau. This was financially independent of the Recke.

Elisa von der Reckes grave in the Inner Neustädter Friedhof in Dresden
Elisa von der Recke, painting by Ernst Gottlob after Joseph Friedrich August Darbes (1785; Gleimhaus , Halberstadt)
Memorial plaque on the house at Brüderstraße 13 in Berlin-Mitte

During her life she traveled Europe, in particular to meet the great minds of the time - e. B. Friedrich Nicolai , Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock , Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim , Matthias Claudius , Johann Bernhard Basedow , Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach , Anton Graff , Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein , Immanuel Kant , Johann Georg Hamann , the actor Friedrich Ludwig Schröder , Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller - to get to know and to intensify these contacts through long-term correspondence. She maintained friendly relations with the royal courts of Anhalt-Dessau and Augustenburg, which were considered enlightened, and with the Counts of Stolberg and had access to the royal courts in Berlin and Warsaw.

From 1798 she lived almost exclusively in Dresden, from 1804 together with her friend Christoph August Tiedge . She was friends with the Körner family, in which she took over the sponsorship for Theodor , with Anton Graff , August Gottlieb Meißner and many well-known contemporaries throughout Germany as well as in Poland and the Baltic States. At the gatherings there was a religiously sensitive tone, chorales were sung by Johann Gottlieb Naumann .

Elisa von der Recke looked after a total of 13 foster daughters. She is buried in the Inner Neustädter Friedhof in Dresden next to her long-time friend Christoph August Tiedge.


Her work consists mainly of pietistic - sensitive poems, diaries and memoirs. The Evangelical Lutheran hymn book for worship in the city and the Duchy of Magdeburg from 1805 contains 16 hymns written by her.


Posthumous editions

  • Spiritual songs, prayers and religious reflections . Leipzig 1833; new edition: Teubner, Leipzig 1841.
  • Notes and letters from her youth , ed. by Paul Rachel. Volume 1. Dieterich'sche Verlagbuchhandlung, Leipzig 1900.
  • Diaries and letters from her wandering years , ed. by Paul Rachel. Volume 2. Dieterich'sche Verlagbuchhandlung, Leipzig 1902.
  • Stories from the heart of a Baltic noblewoman. Memories and Letters , ed. by Heinrich Conrad. Lutz, Stuttgart 1918 ( digitized version ).
  • Diaries and personal reports , ed. by Christiane Träger. Köhler and Amelang, Leipzig, and Beck, Munich 1984, ISBN 3-406-30196-7 .

See also


Web links

Commons : Elisa von der Recke  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Elisa von der Recke  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Elisa von der Recke: Notes and letters from her youth, edited by Paul Rachel, 2nd edition 1902, vol. 1, p. 213.
  2. The brothers Christian zu Stolberg-Stolberg and Friedrich Leopold zu Stolberg-Stolberg were Freemasons and founding members of the Göttingen Hainbund .