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Gravestone of model for ‘Snow White’ displayed at German museum

Gravestone of model for ‘Snow White’ displayed at German museum

Posted August. 07, 2019 07:32,   

Updated August. 07, 2019 07:32


A gravestone of an 18th–century aristocrat who is believed to have inspired a world-famous fairy tale Snow White has been discovered and donated to the Diocesan Museum in Bamberg, southern Germany, according to BBC on Tuesday.

The gravestone has turned out to belong to Maria Sophia von Erthal, who was a German noblewoman. The Brothers Grimm wrote “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” out of “the stories they heard from local people” in 1812, and the fairy tale reached global audiences when created as an animated film by Walt Disney in 1937.

Sophia and Snow White indeed have a lot in common. The aristocrat was born in Lohr am Main, on June 15, 1729, between Prince Philipp Christoph von Erthal and his wife Baroness von Bettendorff.

Sophia was enjoying a happy childhood in a castle in Lohr am Main, about 100 kilometers west of Bamberg, until her mother died. After her mother’s death, Sophia’s father remarried Countess Claudia Elisabeth Maria von Venningen, who was said to dislike her stepdaughter in favor of her own children.

Yet, Sophia’s life did not have a happy ending such as that of Snow White. She was kicked out by her stepmother, and had to spend the rest of her life in England, where she went blind and died in 1796. She was laid to rest at a local church, but the burial plague was lost after the church had been demolished.

It was near a house in Bamberg where the plague was recently found out. The owner of the house said that the gravestone had the inscription with the name “Maria Sophia von Erthal,” and local residents decided to donate it to the museum. “There are indications – though we cannot prove it for sure – that Sophia was the model for Snow White,” Holger Kempkens, director of the Diocesan Museum, told BBC.

Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com