Before the Maxim Hot 100 There Was the Ludwig Hot 36

Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Feb. 12 2014 9:37 AM

The Bavarian Beauties of Nymph Castle


Nanette Kaula and Amalie von Schintling

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world's hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook, Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter @atlasobscura.

Though married at 24, Bavarian King Ludwig I kept 36 beautiful young women in the south pavilion of his palace.

Whenever he became enamored of a female acquaintance's good looks, a portrait of her placid face would soon appear in his Gallery of Beauties, a room in Schloss Nymphenburg — literally, Nymph Castle.


The women, milk-skinned and serene, came from royal, noble, and middle-class backgrounds — countesses; princesses; seamstresses; actresses. Though their circumstances varied, they had one thing in common: all of them were totally hot.

Most of the portraits, painted between 1827 and 1850, are the work of Joseph Stieler, the official painter for the Bavarian court. On more than one occasion, Ludwig I asked Stieler to re-do a portrait — either because he didn't think it did justice to the woman's looks, or because the lady in question had become more attractive since being painted.

Among the bevy of beauties, the standout work of the collection is the portrait of Helene Sedlmayr (below right), a doe-eyed, dark-haired shoemaker's daughter who gave toys to Ludwig's children when she was 15. Her beauty was particularly appreciated by the king's valet, Hermes Miller, with whom she went on to bear 10 children.


Caroline von Holnstein and Helene Sedlmayr


Anna Hillmayer and Katharina Botsaris

Other German palaces to explore:

View Nymphenburg Palace in a larger map


Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Do the Celebrities Whose Nude Photos Were Stolen Have a Case Against Apple?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company


How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 18 2014 1:34 PM Americans Fault Obama for Giving Them Exactly the Anti-ISIS Strategy They Want
Sept. 18 2014 2:18 PM The NFL Is Not a Nonprofit So why does it get to act like one?
Sept. 18 2014 2:00 PM On the Death of My Homophobic Dog I named him Liberace, but I couldn’t have chosen a less appropriate namesake for this coarse, emotionally withholding Norwich terrier.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 12:03 PM The NFL Opines on “the Role of the Female”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Everyday That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 2:03 PM Ryan Adams’ New Song Is a Reminder That He’s One of His Generation’s Best Songwriters
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 1:24 PM Can the Celebrities Whose Photos Were Stolen Really Sue Apple? It may be harder to prove “harm” than it seems.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.