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Portrait of Caroline von Holnstein

Caroline von Holnstein (8 May 1815 in Schloss Fronberg/Schwandorf - 24 July 1859, Fronberg/Schwandorf) was a German noblewoman, best known for her appearance in the Gallery of Beauties.


Caroline Maximiliana Maria Freiin von Spiering was the fifth child of Carl Theodor Freiherr von Spiering and his wife Johanna Nepumukena (née Freiin von Enzberg). On her father's death in 1829 she began looking for a suitable husband. On 9 November 1831, aged 16, she married the 34-year-old Carl Theodor Graf Holnstein aus Bayern. It was no love-match, though it did mean that the Holnstein lands passed in the direct line to the Freiherren von Spiering. Caroline moved into the Palais Holnstein in Munich, where her husband's position opened many doors for her at court, though life among the nobility bored her. On 8 December 1833 Ludwig I of Bavaria first saw her at a court academy.

At one of many banquets she met and fell in love with the married nobleman Wilhelm Freiherrn von Künsberg, who returned her affections in secret. When Wilhelm's wife died she moved in with him at his castle in Fronberg, and he even left the cuirassiers on her behalf. Caroline's husband Carl Theodor tolerated the relationship but refused her a divorce, even going so far as to have her legitimate and illegitimate children educated together. Only Carl Theodor's death cleared Caroline's way to marry Wilhelm, which she did on 21 September 1857 at the Wallfahrtskirche at dem Kreuzberg in Schwandorf das Ja-Wort. Her illegitimate children were legitimised during her lifetime and on 7 July 1859 they were raised to the Bavarian Freiherrenstand with the title Künsberg Freiherr von Fronberg. She died at the Schloss at Fronberg and was buried there in a sarcophagus in a room adjacent to the castle chapel.


The painting of her in the Gallery of Beauties is 71.5 cm by 58 cm. On its back is written "Caroline Gräfin Holnstein aus Bayern geborene Freyin von Spiering erblickte das Licht der Welt auf dem Gute Frohnberg in Bayern dem 8. Mai 1815. Gemalt von J. Stieler 1834" ("Caroline countess Holnstein in Bavaria née Freyin von Spiering born at dem Gute Frohnberg in Bavaria on 8 May 1815. Painted by J. Stieler 1834"). It was still in the artist's studio on 18 February 1834 and was paid for in May that year.


  • Karl Theodor Graf Holnstein aus Bayern 8 December 1832, † 8 December 1832
  • Johanna Gräfin Holnstein aus Bayern * 17 September 1833, † 17 September 1833
  • Maximilian Carl Theodor Graf Holnstein aus Bayern * 19 October 1835, † 1 February 1895 - playmate of princes Ludwig and Otto (both later kings of Bavaria), and friend of Ludwig on his accession as Ludwig II. Count Maximilian brought Ludwig's "Kaiserbrief" to Otto von Bismarck.
  • Wilhelm Maximilian Künsberg Freiherr von Fronberg * 27 March 1838, † 18 June 1909
  • Wilhelmine Maria Caroline Künsberg Freiin von Fronberg * 23 August 1841, † 9 June 1889
  • Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Karl Künsberg Freiherr von Fronberg * 26 September 1842, † 24 March 1876
  • Rudolf Philipp Wilhelm Goswin Karl Künsberg Freiherr von Fronberg * 27 March 1844, † ?


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