Maria Antonia Branconi

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Maria Antonia von Branconi, 1770

Maria Antonia von Branconi, née Elsener (27 October 1746 in Genoa – 7 July 1793 in Abano) was the official royal mistress of Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel between 1766 and 1777. She was a friend of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Branconi was by her contemporaries known as the most beautiful woman in Germany.


She was the daughter of German-Italian parents and was raised in Naples. At the age of twelve, she married the royal official Francesco de Pessina Branconi (d. 21 October 1766), with whom she had one daughter and one son. In November 1766, she met the heir of the throne of Brunswick, who made a study trip through Europe after his marriage in 1764. She entered into a relationship with him and followed him back to Brunswick in Germany, where she became his official favorite. The couple had a child, Karl Anton Ferdinand (1767–1794). Branconi lived in her own palace at Wilhelmstrasse in Brunswick, where she entertained a large social life. In 1774, she and her two children with her husband was ennobled by emperor Joseph II as "von Branconi". The relationship with Karl was finished when he entered into a relationship with Luise Hertefeld in 1777. Branconi made several trips in Europe and lived in Paris 1787–1791. She had a son, Jules Adolph Marie, in a new relationship in 1788.

Branconi was acquainted with the professors at the university of Brunswick, among them JJ Eschenburg and Johann Arnold Ebert. She was also acquainted with Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim, Sophie von La Roche and Johann Caspar Lavater and corresponded with Goethe from 1780.


  • Fiedler, Gudrun: Maria Aurora von Königsmarck (1662–1728) und Maria Antonia Pessina di Branconi (1746–1793) - Zwei Mätressen, zwei Jahrhunderte, ein Vergleich, in: Maria Aurora von Königsmarck. Ein adeliges Frauenleben im Europa der Barockzeit, hrsg. von Rieke Buning, Beate-Christine Fiedler und Bettina Roggmann. Böhlau Verlag (Köln, Weimar, Wien) 2015, S. 285-297. ISBN 978-3-412-22386-1.